As I wrote recently, I recently spent an evening plotting out my story all the way to the end, scene by scene. I did this to give myself a feeling of direction and, if I’m honest with myself, to put off writing a draft that seemed interminable.
But I am so freaking glad that I did it. I always hated the idea of doing scene outlines before because it seemed to take all of the joy out of writing. Like, rather than experiencing the story, you were just recording it, and that seemed like work rather than fun. But ooh boy, was I wrong.
Believe it or not, I didn’t before today. I was kind of wanting to slack off a bit on my drafting, and I realized that, hey, I don’t know exactly how my story is going to end. I knew that it was going to involve some Solar-System-shattering political changes, but I didn’t know any specifics. Now, I know that it will involve a few more specific things:
- Characters on five different planets racing against the same clock.
- Former enemies making up, then becoming enemies again.
- Orbital strikes.
Just finished a great weekend with the family. Relaxation, food, good conversation – I am truly fortunate to be related to such excellent folks. But of course you only care about the posts, so here we go.
I’m at the point in my discovery writing where things start to get a little more difficult. I’m looking back at what I’ve already written, and although I think it’s entirely serviceable it’s naturally getting to be more and more difficult to fit the pieces together. As I mentioned in my previous post, some characters and minor plot arcs that I expected to have at most a minor impact in the story have started to surge forward and demand a spot in the limelight, and I feel the need to accommodate these urges.
This really is my favorite part of discovery writing, even though it’s hard: watching the characters take charge. Continue reading
I am a discovery writer. Despite some interesting experiences in the last few weeks, I tend not to do well with pre-planning, extensive outlines, detailed character biographies, and most else that doesn’t involve drafting and revising.
I should qualify that a little bit. I think that there’s a continuum of writing styles, from the heavy outliners to the discovery writers. Most people will hover about the middle half of that continuum, where they like to do a little bit of planning a head of time, and a little bit of figuring it out as they go.
The “figure it out as I go” part of the scale is where I feel most at home. In 2008, I abandoned my first NaNoWriMo idea (which I had done a fair bit of planning for) and started an entirely new novel with different characters, setting, plot, and genre on November 3rd. I still won that year and not only was it a blast, but it was one of the better novels I’ve written – in fact I’m revisiting a lot of the concepts in it for this year’s NaNo novel.
On the other hand, this doesn’t always work so well.
I’ve changed the title of my work-in-progress. It used to be The Atlas Question, which I liked because, um, it had the name of a spaceship that was notable in the story. Then I listened to an interesting podcast of the subject of so-called “mating plumage” (the title and cover art of a book), and realized that it wasn’t really that good of a title. Your title and your book’s cover are like little tiny posters for your story, and if you want people’s eyes to stop on your book, then both had better be good.
Of course, I can’t control my book’s cover art unless I self-publish, and I can’t afford to spend hours doodling about on the title yet, but for now I have decided on a replacement that I like better, if not completely: Fugitives from Earth. It kind of sounds like an episode of The Outer Limits or a short story from the mid-1950s, but it’s more descriptive and at least raises a small question – if someone was banished from Earth, where would they go?
I also have a catchy little banner ad for it, right after the jump.
That’s not a rhetorical question. I only have a few readers, but I’m honestly curious what they think about this question: how do you keep working, keep writing, keep not surfing the internet, when the tough times come? If I have a great deadline in NaNoWriMo, then that usually does the trick for me, but usually that’s not the case and it’s up to me to keep me interested.
I’m not having any huge difficulties right now, although I feel like I might be on the borderline. I’m doing my story outlining, as I mentioned previously, and it’s pretty much as boring as I expected. I keep running into the problem of balancing story elements, and I’m starting to get a bit concerned that I don’t have enough subplots (of all things). Sometimes this entire project just seems incredibly difficult.
Of course, it is incredibly difficult. Most people would never finish it. For that matter, I may never finish it (although I plan to!). So here’s how I’m coping: I admit to myself that what I’m doing is difficult and a little boring. But I make myself sit in front of this laptop for at least two 30-minute intervals, not browsing the internet, not playing Minesweeper, just staring at my Word documents. Eventually, doing nothing becomes more boring than writing, and I’ll start typing again.
I also turn the internet off.
Anyway, short post today. I’m honestly curious about what you think, so please sound off in the comments! This will be the last post until next Monday; I’ll be out of town and away from internet until then. Bon voyage!
Outlining is going apace. I’m really glad I’m doing it because it’s revealed a lot of weak points in my story that I would’ve steamrolled me over in the middle of the drafting process. It’s also revealed the tremendously detailed balancing act that writing a novel actually is – you need to balance characters, plot, and scenes, you need to have a developed backstory, and show that backstory to the reader (but not too directly!), you need to make sure that there is always conflict brewing, and you need to keep tabs on a thousand different things that all have to come together in the end.
It’s a wonder that I ever wrote anything before without planning it to this extent. Even if this experiment is a failure, it will at least be a useful one, and when it all comes down it, maybe that’s what matters.
I hit a big planning milestone today: I started work on a detailed outline. I have never done this before writing a story of any length, and I have to say that doing it before writing a novel is a little intimidating. For one thing, it was hard getting started, and for another, I’m really worried that it’s setting me up for failure.
Let me explain a little bit. Just like everyone who writes without outlining first, I always start stories off really strong, then get somewhere between a few thousand and a few tens of thousands of words into them before suddenly realizing that I’m out of inspiration. Up until this point, I’ve kept kind of a mental outline of what I wanted to have happen in the back of my mind, but suddenly, that’s run out like a bad date, leaving me along to pay up the balance of my story.