Daily Writing Check-in: June 5, 2019

Words/Time:  1 hour, 16 minutes working on pre-writing for Book 3 of “Pursuit of Power” trilogy.

I thought for a while last night about my issue where the main sub-plot doesn’t actually connect to the book’s main plot at all. And I hit on a way to make them connect, which I think makes the story even more intriguing! So I wrote that into the outline, and then hit on another huge question that goes back to the very beginning of planning out my story world. I took some time away from my writing to think about this question, and then came back and wrote out the question and brainstormed answers.

I think I’ve come to a decision on this matter, though there’s still one small question that niggles at my brain. I’m moving on for now though. I added a little more to my outline, and then came to what will probably be the lead-up to the climax…but I don’t really know what’s going to happen. I can set it aside and figure that when it’s time to write, the rest of the story up to that spot might point the way to the next step, but I don’t want to leave it alone yet.

So I decided it’s again time to do a type of pre-writing that has literally never failed me yet–a character interview. And it didn’t take me long to know exactly who the interview should be with…but I can’t even say who it is without being a huge spoiler. He’ll most likely be an integral part of this book’s climax though, and is a character that is relatively  unknown to me. So it’s time to get to know him!

Daily Writing Check-in: June 4, 2019

Words/Time:  1 hour, 33 minutes working on pre-writing for Book 3 of “Pursuit of Power” trilogy.

I started to outline the story, thinking I’d make it a broad outline. That turned into more like my normal type of outline though, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s going. However, I have now become aware that I have a sub-plot that isn’t related enough to the main plot. I figured it fit in there simply because the book that precedes it, “Protector,” had both of these plots too. But in that book, the sub-plot tied very well into the main plot. Now that sub-plot is the main plot of the next book, and the main plot of “Protector” goes a whole other direction, and isn’t a very connected sub-plot. So I am going to have to decide if I can make that work or need to scrap this sub-plot.

Daily Writing Check-in: May 29, 2019

Words/Time:  1 hour, 27 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “Protector.”

After posting about how uncertain I was about the way this work was going yesterday, I thought about what I said near the end of the post. I then came to the decision that I did have the wrong plot as the main plot. So I’ve changed some things up in my mind, and while the climax for the book that I have so far is not for the main plot, I think I can add another climax that will be for the main plot. And I even think I can downplay the climax I have so that it doesn’t overshadow the climax for the main plot that I will still need to write. I think.

Today’s time was spent continuing to sort through the scenes, adding in new ones that will need written, and moving some around so that they flow better. I’m still doing a lot of staring and thinking, but I feel like I’m understanding better as I go now. I’m really looking forward to the revision of this book, but I know it will be far down on a list of goals after I finish the current list.

I also started to put events into my timeline for all of the Pithea books, because I realized that some things were really skewed. I am considering cutting out about 2 years of time in this book.

Daily Writing Check-in: May 28, 2019

Words/Time:  59 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “Protector.”

I anticipated it being difficult to try to sort through the scenes in the first draft and decide what was extemporaneous to what the story became and needed to be cut. But I had no idea how difficult it would be. I did a lot of staring and thinking today, and trying to come up with how to even sort through the scenes and figure out how to make the story flow without some scenes that I think might need cut. I fear I’m losing too much, but that if I keep some of this just to make it flow better, it will make the real purpose of the story drag.

So I guess I need to decide how important it is for the plot thread that continues from “Pursuit of Power” into this book to be the main plot. But if it’s not, then the climax is not actually related to the main plot…which I’m sure is a literary no-no.

Today’s post is probably more rambly and confusing than normal. That’s because I’m so confused.

Daily Writing Check-in: May 27, 2019

Words/Time:  1 hour, 30 minutes doing preliminary work for the new outline of “Protector.”

I finished reading the first draft, making a few small changes along the way. Then I had to analyze the best way to proceed with sorting out which scenes can be kept and which are not related to the main plot, or an important-enough sub-plot and have to be cut. The way this story is laid out makes it difficult to wrap my head around some of this, so I decided the next step is to actually put the scenes into chronological order. That will help me a lot later anyway, because I’ll need to put this story into my timeline of all of the Pithea books at some point anyway (probably before I’m done re-outlining it).

The scenes are now in chronological order, so tomorrow I’ll start color-coding them by plot/sub-plot.

My 2015 NaNoNovel

“Too Many Irons in the Fire”

During the Midwest’s biggest annual historical reenactment, a local blade smith named Shawn Mallory disappears. Twenty-five-year-old Darcy Preston watches her dad worry over his missing friend. Darcy looks for clues about where Shawn may have gone, but the crowd and her own obligations to the event slow her down.

The more Darcy watches and talks to the many other blacksmiths attending the event, the more she begins to suspect that Shawn’s disappearance may have been orchestrated. By the end of the week, as the busiest day of the rendezvous approaches, Darcy is convinced that her own father is in danger.

Can she convince her dad of her suspicions in time to save him?

cover1

I’ve never made a cover for a NaNoNovel before. Rather than make it official with words and such, I went simply with an image. It’s better than I’ve ever had before.

Daily Challenge Check-in: October 22, 2015

Words/Time: 30 minutes working on prep for my 2015 NaNoNovel. This was spent mostly trying to boil the plot I have in mind down into a few paragraphs that I can share here and on the NaNo site. You wouldn’t think that would be so difficult, but it’s not easy trying to figure out what the main plot thread is in a story you haven’t written. (In my case, it’s not always easy figuring out the main plot thread in one I have written.) Also, trying to boil it down to a short, succinct synopsis with no extras, even when those extras maybe feel like they’re integral to the story, can take some thinking.

While I was working on that, I had to adjust my timeline a bit to clear up some events I’d muddied. I think I’m finally ready to start my outline.

Daily Challenge Check-in: October 21, 2015

Words/Time: 1 hour working on prep for my 2015 NaNoNovel. I’ve been brainstorming a subplot to fill out the middle of the novel and trying to figure out timelines. I added a bunch of events and notes to my file in Aeon, and wrote out clues and other mystery-related notes in a journal trying to visualize how the mystery part needed to play out. I’m getting more excited about the idea now that it’s starting to feel like a full story, not just an opening and climax. I think I can finally work on a full synopsis to post here and on my NaNo profile.

Daily Challenge Check-in: October 18, 2015

Words/Time: 27 minutes working on prep for my 2015 NaNoNovel. I’ve started laying out the sequence of events that I know, which is mostly the very beginning, and a few sporadic things that I don’t know when will happen, or even in what order. As I’ve started to look harder at this plot, I’ve realized I don’t have much of a plot. I have a feeling I’ll have a sketchier outline this year than I have the last few years. It worries me a bit, but if all else fails, I can just write about normal rendezvous life and events if I can’t pin down the mystery plot for a while. At least I’ll be getting words out.

Outlining for NaNoWriMo

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbIf you’re just coming across this now, at the beginning of October, there’s still plenty of time to plan a story from scratch. Here is a list of posts I’ve made about NaNo, which includes starting with story seeds and beginning to develop a plot. I’m not finished with that series of posts, as I wanted to give people time to work on the various steps. Personally, I’m still in the “take a nugget of a plot and see what you can flesh out of it” stage myself. However, I think this is a good time to talk about outlining, in case anyone is ready for that step.

The Great Debate

This isn’t a new topic. Even I have discussed the debate between panters and planners more than once before. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about others’ NaNo prep on WordPress in the last month, and have come to a few conclusions about pantsing and planning: Most pantsers actually do some planning, but not enough to consider themselves planners. Most planners leave room to pants along the way, but still find that they need to have a certain amount of stuff planned in advance.

So basically, there are extreme panters–all they know at the beginning of NaNo is a basic idea like, “It’s set on Mars and involves werewolves.” Or more of a plot point like, “Everywhere she goes, Sarah hears voices. She thinks she’s schizophrenic until the things the voices say start coming true.” With no more than that basic idea, they start writing on November 1st and just let the words flow out of them.

There are extreme planners–they have a 10,000-word outline, detailed character sheets for everyone down to the MC’s hairdresser, and a notebook full of notes about the world they’ve built.

Most of us fall somewhere in between these extremes–plan a little and wing most of it, or plan a lot but still let the story change itself. And I’ve noticed that many panters think that having an outline before starting to write the story means you’re locked into what is in that outline.

The Case for Outlining

Let me just say right now that most planners do give themselves room to follow the story or characters in unexpected directions. Sometimes, I write 2/3 of an outline, then start writing, knowing that I’ll veer off the outline before I get to the end anyway. Or I’ll change the outline to suit the new direction, or throw it out completely. Not too long ago I took a little offense at a blogger who implied that pantsing was creative, and writing from an outline wasn’t. Don’t take my tone to be too severe here, but I’d just like to state that writing fiction is creating, no matter what way you go about it. Simply because I do more of my creating before I start the actual writing by no means makes it less creative.

And let me just put this out there–the more you plan before you write, the more intricate your story can be. You can weave subplots together, work in foreshadowing more easily, and find plot holes before you’ve written them into the story. Outlining doesn’t make your story perfect, but I do believe it adds more potential for depth.

One more reason that I find planning to be important is that if I don’t write down ideas as I have them, and get them into place in the story, I will simply forget them. Even for this post, when I was falling asleep last night, I had an idea for a random plot point for the example up above. I really liked it, even if it was just an illustration. By this evening, I’d forgotten it completely.

Types of Outlines

1.) Perhaps the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they hear the word “outline” is the formal outline. You know the kind–with the roman numerals and indentation and such. outlineThey provide some scene organization and truly, if this works for you, great! Though they always made writing research projects easier, I still disliked making these in school. And a few years ago, I tried to make one for my NaNo project anyway. About 1/4 of the way through the outline, I decided it was more difficult than it was worth and switched to my normal way of outlining.

outline2.) My outlines usually look like this. Actually, they’re normally handwritten, but this one I typed was easier to share. I simply write plot point after plot point, events as I want them to happen. Sometimes a single line in the outline is so broad that it takes several pages to write that plot point. Sometimes the story flows quickly through several pages of outline. The important thing is that I’m getting down, in order, what I want the story to look like. And sometimes the details don’t require much extra thought during the writing (which, by the way, can be really helpful during NaNo…less slowing down to think of what else should happen means I get the words out faster). But sometimes the outline only tells me that “MC grows up after the important thing happens at the beginning of the story,” and I end up spending several thousand words making up things that happened to him while he was growing up.

3.) I recently learned about worksheets and templates for outlining. I knew of them for characters, so it makes sense that they’d exist for outlining too. If you think you’d benefit from having a template, you may try doing a web search for one that works for you. From what I can tell, there are those that give you lines to fill in an introduction, several plot points with supporting material, a climax, and a conclusion. Or there are some that show the image of a story (sort of like a mountain) and tell you to fill in the points along the way. If you’re new to fiction writing or even just new to outlining, perhaps the structure would help.

4.) Another way of outlining or plotting I have heard of, but never tried, is making a plot board. Some sort of board on which you place individual cards, post-its, whatever, each one of which is a different plot point or detail. You can color code it (which to my thinking would come in handy to show different subplots), see it all at a glance, and move points around as you need to. Something like this can probably be done on different mediums, and there are probably online that you can find better information on this than I can provide.

I personally plan to try outlining in Scrivener this year. I still have the free trial, though it won’t last all through November. But I’m still testing out different aspects of the program to decide if it’s worth buying. Since you can create a new scene for each outline point and then write directly into the scene space, thus organizing your story as you write, it seems like a nice tool…I’m just not sure how it will work for me in practice.

During October

Wherever you may be in your NaNo prep, I strongly advise that you start gearing up for NaNo now (if you haven’t already been). It’s not that it’s impossible to dive right in on Nov. 1 and win, but there are certainly ways to make it easier. As I’ve mentioned before, making writing part of every day now will make needing to do that in November easier. Even if you only spend 15 minutes per day free writing or working on novel planning, you can start building the habit now.

Are you gearing up for NaNo too? Do you have a different style of outlining?