Friday, January 12, 2018

The Year of Challenge

A few years ago, based on I have no idea what, I started proclaiming each year as The Year of <Insert a Writing Point to be Worked on Here>. One year was the year of action. Another was the year of getting emotion on the page - or at least seeing if I could up my game on that point. This past year has been the year of taking 'telling' phrases out of my writing. As much as possible. These are the phrases that generally start 'character knew', 'character thought', 'character wondered', or 'character felt'. There might be more. But yeah. That's been my own personal little challenge.

This year is the year of learning to write to an outline. Why? Because I am the queen of overwriting and I would very much like to give up the crown. No. Seriously. Queen of Overwriting. The cut file for the current WIP is longer than the target 100k word count of the manuscript. Literally two novels. One to keep. One to throw away. The *incredible* waste of time and effort. Feel free to picture me shaking my head and knocking back a gulp of tea. This is no way to run a railroad. Or write a novel.

So this year. I learn to plot, outline, and then do my damnedest to not write an entire extra novel in the pursuit of the novel I do want written. Yes. I am still a character driven writer. And I do actually expect a book to drift from an outline, but the thing I'm hoping to get from this endeavor is a means of visualizing the story's skeleton. What flesh I hang upon that skeleton is up to me and the characters, but with the skeleton available to me, I have fantasies of being able to actually finish a novel draft in a reasonable time frame. Say 90 days.  I'd like faster, but I don't want to get ahead of myself here. 

The other thing I hope for is more coherent storylines. See. I'm a little like the writer/artist for Hyperbole and a Half. Give me a story to write and I want to include ALL THE THINGS! With an outline, I'd have a simple yardstick for whether or not my umpteenth subplot actually serves the theme. Again. In my fantasies. 

So yeah. The Year of Learning to Outline. Better stories, less waste. I think I can sell that.

1 comment:

  1. One thought for you - my friend Grace Draven has an unusual process where she writes all of the dialogue first, then goes back and fills in everything else. It serves as a kind of outline, though she doesn't think of it that way. I've thought I could maybe use that approach, if I needed to quickly sketch an entire book without writing the whole thing out.