Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Own Personal Hades, or Outlining

Now begins the part of this process that is making me depressed and making my brain hurt. I'm outlining. Hopefully I'll get through the entire Sunstone outline, all 3 or 4 books (whichever I decide upon though 3 is appealing more at the moment), but it's unlikely. I just need to get through the outline for book 1 by the end of the day Friday.

Here's where I've put myself into depression mode: I'm outlining in detail what I've already written, scene by scene (sort of) and I really get it affirmed to me more and more that I need to just basically cut 6 of the 9 or 10 chapters I've written so far. I really should just start over from scratch on Saturday when I kick into 2,000 words a day mode, but I can't do it. I want to get this book written, no matter how crappy and horrible it is, and starting over makes me feel like I won't get it done in the month of August like I've allotted. (I've been working on this for 7 or 8 years now and I'd like to feel some sort of sense of accomplishment.)

Meantime, I sit here outlining, still not really knowing where my plot is going. I'm outlining it in this way:


Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Scene by scene, chapter by chapter. It's going to get really rough when I get into the portions I haven't written yet.

Reading all of The Plot Thickens really drives home that I do need to start in a different spot and get rid of 80,000 words (maybe that's an exaggeration). But there are so many characters I love in those first six chapters and there are so many little things that I think I meant to be important, little subplots that will be crucial in later volumes, etc., that I'm struggling right not to figure out where they'll fit in should I eliminate all that pretext, that isn't really pretext but important plot setup that should be covered.

Now to go and make sense of al my Sunstone notes that I've garnered over the years and try to nail down the rest of my plot and finish the outline. New deadline for outlining: TODAY.

There are some other things that I have to write that are precursor to what I'll be writing in the novel, but will show up in the novel.

Time is slowly dripping away from me. I feel like the clocks in Dali's The Persistence of Memory.


  1. Ugh, outlining is such a chore for me. I can only bring myself to do an overall sketch outline:

    story line (who does what overall in the novel)

    *thats it*

    I can't bring myself to do much more than that. It seems to stiffle my creativity. I do need at least that much, however, or I languish at about 50 pages in -- not knowing who my characters are or what they are doing.

    Good luck and have fun with it!

  2. Outlining can be painful. You sound way more organized about it than me, though. Like Tess,I usually just sketch out the major plot points and characters, then start writing. The story will change ten times before I finish it, and it usually barely resembles the outline I started with. I guess I'm a combination plotter and pantser.

  3. Good luck. I'm a pretty bad outliner myself. Starting over, as painful as it can be, can be just what you need, though. I was 100 pages into a novella when I scrapped it and started over and ended up with a much better story. It got published, so it must have worked. Hang in there!

  4. Oh I feel your pain! You can do it, good luck today!

  5. Thanks everyone. I don't usually outline like that.

    Just doing it this way because it's what one of the exercises at the end of chapter 3 of Lukeman's The Plot Thickens.

    Seriously, I'm not normally this detailed.

    My last work I wrote, I just did some random outline of what I wanted to happen and the characters sort of took over. It's interesting now to compare the outline to the story.

    I'm finishing this comment several hours after I began it because since I began it I've had to run off to the ER and get my hand stitched up. It's like it was karma or something for posting that video yesterday. I made it 10 months this time before having to go to the ER again for a left-hand kitchen related injury. Drat.

  6. Oh, sorry about your injury. Hope you are okay. It is quite the coincidence after your post yesterday, isn't it? Anyway, good luck with the outline. I hate outlines, and I have never been able to work with one. My plot just seems to happen as I write. I love it. It's almost like reading a book rather than writing one.

  7. Thanks! It really does feel a bit like karma biting me in the butt.

    That's how I usuually write. It's a very organic process.

    I'm happy to report that my hand is not yet hurting, but they did say it would take 5 or so hours for the numbing agents to wear off.

    In other good news, despite being one-handed, I've finished my outline of book 1.

    1 last character to write up (forgot about her till this morning) and some little things to write and I'll be set for writing come Saturday.

  8. Editing can be excruciating. Outlining lets you know where to edit in advance. Of course, there will be more editing later. I like to think of those edits as something that can be used later, so they are not really gone. They are just resting.

  9. I like that view, Anna. Resting. That's a good way to look at it.


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