domingo, 17 de fevereiro de 2008

Planning and Outlining

I'm not an organic writer. I cannot just sit down and start writing and pull off a novel that way. I've tried a couple of times, generally for NaNoWriMo. It just doesn't work. The text gets to 5000 to 10000 words and then I just don't know where to go. I need structure to make my writing function; I need an outline, and I need a timetable, otherwise, the writing process just drags on and on and I end up losing interest.

I try not to overplot. Generally, my outlines are more like a telling of the story in the Present, a kind of draft zero. I tend to use the phase outline I picked up on Lazette Gifford's book Nano For The New And The Insane, slightly modified according to the project.

And mostly it works well; it gives me the guide line I need, without stiffling my creativity too. Also, the phase method allows me to plan my work better. If I want to finish a first draft by a certain date, I just calculate the number of phases I need to do a day.

The outlines have another advantage: for me, it's much easier to rearrange events and spot missing scenes while still in outline form than once you have the whole book written.

Sometimes, though, I'll be so excited about a project that I'll start writing it before the outline is completely finished. That's what I did with Mountains to Climb. I had an outline, of sorts. The story started by being a script; when I decided that I wanted to turn it into a novel, I needed to expand the original outline, but I thought I could start working on the first draft right away. It was a big mistake.

The writing has become increasingly difficult. I've been chalking it up to insecurity: if it's not finished, no one can tell you it stinks. Yesterday, though, I was forced to confront the fact that the problem might be another altogether.

I was trying to do a synopsys to put in the site. I did do one, but it's weak, inadequate and unappealing. And the thing that has been nibbling at the back of my brain just stepped up to the front: there are problems with the outline, there are some great bits of story there, but the whole doesn't feel like a whole, and there are some points that are simply bullshit. And if I, the writer, think they're bullshit, how are the readers going to react?

I had planned to finish the first draft of MTC a little before the end of March and then start working on The Starlight Ring, so that I had the first draft of that one finished sometime around the end of April, beginning of May. Clearly that is no longer an option, so I had to reevaluate my plans.

The conclusion I came to was that I should leave MTC alone and start working on TSR immediately. By my calculations, I should have it finished sometime in mid March. By that time, I should've gained some distance from MTC and be able to make a better assessment of what is wrongt and what I can do to fix it.

Sem comentários: