My husband asked me yesterday how my NaNo novel was coming along, and I told him it was frustrating because I wasn't supposed to 'multi-task.' He thought I had lost my mind, and asked me how I could multi-task when I am writing. So that made me think about that term and how it applies...or if it really did...to writing. My decision was that yes, it does apply.
Let's think about that for a moment. The term means to do more than one thing at a time, right? Well, isn't that what you are doing, however unconsciously it might be, when you are writing? You start with a plot. Or more correctly, perhaps, you start with an idea for a plot. You throw that idea around for awhile and then you start to write. Do you only write the plot for hours on end? Of course not!
What comes after the plot? Usually, characters, right? So now you have to work on developing characterization, and fitting those characters into your plot. Sometimes they all work right in, but more often you have to change someone or even delete someone, because that character simply isn't going to work...at least, not at the moment.
Then there is dialogue. Your characters talk, don't they? So you have to give them dialogue. But wait! That's not as easy as it sounds! You have to give them each a voice, too. You can't have MC Jane Doe sounding exactly the same as Joe Blow, the secondary MC. Now you are getting into really sticky wickets. The voice has to be individual, it has to fit the character, it has to blend into the dialogue precisely, and of course, all this has to be worked into the plot. WHEW! That was hard work!
But wait! You've only done all this for your MC! What about your secondary MC, and then all the other minor characters that have suddenly appeared to take part in the plot? Each of them speaks, right? So each of them has to have dialogue...AND...and an individual voice. The voice has to fit the character, and it has to fit...well, you know. Okay, so you've got all that down pretty well, and you're beginning to feel good about how this is going, right?
But wait! What about point of view? How is this novel going to be told? Is it going to be 1st person, told through the eyes of the MC? Or maybe 3rd person, told by a narrator. Hmm...well, let's try for 1st person, so the reader can be really involved with the MC. Uh oh, that's not enough, however. What about the tense? Past tense, present tense? Present tense is interesting, but...it's fairly hard to do. So, let's decide upon 1st person, past tense. Oh boy, this whole thing is getting more complicated, but I think I'm through the roughest part, right?
But wait! You're not through! There is still the descriptive narration and the pacing of the entire novel. Remember what you first learned as a writer? SHOW DON'T TELL! Uh huh, now you're catching on! Now is the time to set that in motion, to put action into place along with some descriptive narration. Oh, and don't forget the pacing. You don't want your story to drag, but you can't rush through it, either, because then it is going to leave your reader very dissatisfied...to say nothing of your editor. Okay, so now you've worked on all of this, and you think, 'Now I can take a deep breath.'
But wait! No, now is not the time to take a deep breath. Because now you have the structure of your novel to work on...you know, those pesky little things like spelling, grammar, and punctuation? Have you checked words like there and their and the similar ones to make sure you've spelled them correctly in the correct places ? Do you know when to use lay and lie so you don't get them confused?
Are all of your commas in the right place in your sentences? Have you gone through and removed the majority of your 'just's' and 'then's' or 'right then's' ? What about your sentence structures, are all of them complete sentences, without 'dangling participles' ?
NOW you can take a deep breath! Except...you've done all of the above...but...this was just the first chapter!
I think you can safely say, as writers we probably know considerably more about "multi-tasking" than the av - er - age bear, right ? !
(PS: I hope you all know about "Yogi Bear" who is smarter than the av-er-age bear! )