Saturday, December 4, 2010

I Have A Plan And It Has Six Steps

It's a vague plan, but I have one! And so I present my six-steps plan to fix my mess!

1. Take a deep breath
Whenever I think of how much work I have ahead (it doesn't help that I have two drafts), I hear a little panicked voice yell that I won't make it, that there is too much to do. There's no. I can do this. I just need to take my time and work hard.

If I could find the time to write 65k over four days, I will find the time to straighten my story.

2. Figure out what I want to keep
I keep talking about a mess, but the truth is that  there's a lot of good things buried in it. I have to take the time and list what I want to keep for the next version - Margo's blankets, in short. I need to know what about these two stories really hooked me, and what can still fit in.

The rest can die in a fire.

3. Take another deep breath
Because, well, the hardest part is just coming!

4. Figure out how to fill the holes
 All this cleaning up is bound to leave a lot of questions. How do I fix X plothole? What can replace Character Y? How do I start/end the story instead of Z?  These are the big questions. It's one thing to throw everything away and another to find how to replace it.

Will it be any better? It seems obvious for the solutions I thought of on the spot during NaNoWriMo, but some of what I'll throw to the winds has been around for a year now. That is harder, but I have scrapped first ideas before. I can do it again.

All I need is to go back to Steps 1 and 3 a few times.

5. Do a complete outline
The two novels that came out the best during my first draft had a complete and detailed outline, from beginning to end. Yes, the scenes themselves changed. Some were added and others removed, but the general structure worked, and it stood strong despite the craziness of NaNoWriMo. I'm a plotter. I work best with outlines. This time they won't be half-completed when I start.

6. Start writing
Only when I feel ready for it, and not at the same velocity. I know I will end up hitting a 40-50k /month rate, because that is how I normally work, but this time I won't do word sprints. There's a difference between advancing fast because you're in the right beat and advancing fast because you have to. You only need to read the end of White Echoes to tell. I was fast (surprisingly so), but the story still flows a lot better than during the first part because I knew where it was going.

So, yes. Writing, with a little bit of Steps 1 and 3 for every time I feel like I'm going in circles with this project.


  1. Wow, you came up with that fast. Good plan of attack!

  2. I'm all for the flexible outline, Claudie. And do avoid the forced marches. They do nothing but wear you down.

    Good luck!

  3. Margo: Yeah, I had to come up with this one fast, because I was starting to obsess over my lack of direction rather than study. Now I know where I'm going, at least, even if I can't start working on it for another 1-2 weeks. It's reassuring.

    Hillary: I do think forced marches can get you through a rough patch, at times, and I'm not sure I would've fixed White Echoes' ending without the NaNoWriMo drive.

    I've taken all the juice I could from the experience, though. Now's the time to take a break, breathe, and take a more careful jab at my WiPs