Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The First that Started Last Year (January's Theme Post fromJody Feldman)




This is me.

Yes, I’m a plunger. I think about a new book – envision main characters, bits of setting, plot possibilities, etc. – and when the excitement is about to blow steam from every pore of my being, I open a new document and plunge right in. No outline, no synopsis. Just a few notes I have jotted down to avoid the plagued, “What was that brilliant idea I had last Thursday!?!” That steam continues to power me through 2-3 months and a first draft.

A few months ago, though, I had my plunger’s license revoked. Or I revoked it myself. Sorry to be so cryptic, but I had reason to outline. Not just notes, but a full-fledged ...

I. Blah-blah-blah

A. Blah-blah-blah-blah
B. Blah-blah-blah-blah

1. Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah
2. Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah

II. Blah-blah-blah
... and so on.

The fact is, I’d written one of those before. About a thousand decades ago, I entered some competition which required entrants to submit the first however-many pages plus an outline. When it came time to write the rest of the book (the plan was to forge ahead while I waited for that rejection as well), I was too bored to continue. It wasn’t until years later that I actually finished the book (one of my practice novels), but I could only stand to work on it again because I took it in a new direction.

But back to today, to this year. Chances are high, I’ve been told, that I will need to follow through and actually write the story I’ve outlined. This will be a first for me. It will be a big challenge. I need to keep reminding myself that the milestones I’ve laid out are only checkpoints. The vast question marks that lie between are the possibilities, the steam, that will power me though 2-3 months and a first draft ... if I let them.

12 comments:

  1. I had to write outlines for my Sherlock Files series. At first I hated it, because by the time I was writing the book, I felt there were no surprises left, and it seemed like doing homework. But as soon as I realized that the outline wasn't written in stone, it became fun and challenging again. I still don't love outlines, but I don't hate them anymore!

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    1. Good to know it's all possible, Tracy.

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  2. I've written an outline for a memoir, but never for fiction. Best of luck.

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    1. Thanks, Stacy. With the luck, though, could you through in some chains to lock me to my chair? I'd appreciate it.

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  3. I'm more of a plotter, myself. I really dislike first drafts, period. I find the quicker I can get through that first draft, the better. Then I'm on to my true love: REVISION!

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    1. The upside to plotting ... I was able to run this past my agent who made some correction in direction BEFORE I was married to the whole idea. It may be a real time saver in the long run.

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  4. Good post, Jody. Seems like everyone has a different process that works for them. My fiction outlines are like cross-country trips. I plan out where I am going to start, a few stops along the way, and where I want to end up. Everything else is up for grabs. For me, the fun of writing is seeing what will pour out onto the page on any given day! Holly, will you do my revisions for me?

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    1. "the fun of writing is seeing what will pour out onto the page on any given day"

      Me, too, Trudi. I've often found it to be like a hike in the woods ... which path now? Outlining takes some of that away from me. I suppose I need to think of the choice process as having already occurred ... and this first draft is a revision of sorts? I don't know. We'll see.

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  5. I'm not much of an outliner either, but sometimes a book will call for it. Usually in the middle of the process when I'm hopelessly lost. For me, the fun in writing from an outline comes when I find the detours. The scene starts as I planned, and then there's some unlikely discovery that works as part of the whole, but is also not exactly as I planned. I hope you have fun on the journey, if only because it's a new adventure for you.

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    1. A new adventure, yes. I will have fun with it on several levels if only because I'm being allowed, once again, to do what I love.

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  6. Fun post!

    I usually outline. For one of my novels, however, I really wanted the MC to feel lost and wandering, so I plunged ahead with no plan. Worked great for a while, but at 30K I realized that I'd better make a plan, or I'd end up with no point to the whole tale! So I outlined the rest of it.

    Try to let the outline be your friend and guide, not your captor!

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  7. This only proves we each have to find our own process ... and no one is more right that the other.

    Great words of wisdom.

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