So … on the word count front, it may look like I have stalled. But, I haven’t. I am feverishly working away every spare minute I get. And my head is abuzz with story and writing even when I am supposed to be doing other things. However, I have reached a junction in my writing of my WIP. Another one, I suppose, but I truly sense the end is nigh on this one. Yes, I still have a bunch of words to put down, but I have also already put an even larger bunch of words. Yes. I do truly believe that the number of words I have already put into the world is larger than those yet to come. I could be wrong, but I’m going to believe it.
I have come to a decision (and procrastinating at the moment, because sometimes putting decisions into action are less fun than they seem in one’s mind) …
So far, on the whole, I have been pantsing it – I write. And, truth be known, I still believe that my best writing has come from those “inspirational moments” in the shower, as I drift off to sleep at night, or when I’m out for a walk – yes, away from the computer or pen and paper.
However, I have worked out an outline before, and I liked it. And then I went and learned stuff about increasing stakes, and story structure and blah blah … and I started again, and my outline doesn’t match with what my characters know in this current version, and so I guess I need to write a new one, but there are still things about the current version that I’m not loving entirely, and there are old scenes that have had to be discarded that I did love a great deal, and you know what? I think I can merge them. I really do. I can move my characters around the place at the beginning so they don’t learn stuff quite as early as they had in the latest version, and then I can get back to some of my more fun scenes that I had done when I truly got visited by a muse of sorts (I don’t see it so much these days, and that’s what makes me fear that more recent writing may be a bit flat). And my old scenes were definitely pantsed. So, there is nothing wrong with pantsing, especially when getting to know characters and feeling your way through the possibilities of a world and a story.
But – for me, at least – there comes a time when I need to see the story as a whole and see if it is going to work before I commit any more words to it. Now, I haven’t completed this step, yet, but I am pretty confident this story will be worth those words. For one thing – I can see a Three Act Structure here, and I didn’t actually plan that. But, now I have, and it’s exciting to see. It just gives me something to measure in this very subjective exercise – this is why I went into Science at university, and preferred Maths to English at school: 2+2 is 4, there is no other answer, it just is … whereas, if I get this story under one editor’s nose, they might say “Wow, this is awesome”, while another might go “Who wrote this drivel?” … You can simply never know.
At the moment, I am loosely “Snowflaking” … Granted, I am not putting the recommended time into each step because I have already spent so much time with this story I think I can work through it a bit faster than if I was starting from scratch. Basically, I am using the Snowflake method as a guideline. So here goes:
I am able to sum up the main theme of my story in one line. Yay.
I am able to expand that sentence out to my One-paragraph (approx) summary, and it gives me my back-copy blurb … or something pretty bloody close to it. Actually, in this case, I worked backwards. I’d already been playing with that blurb.
Then I’ve worked out my three main disasters plus my climax and I can line those up within the 3 Act Structure, and they actually correspond pretty well with the paragraph summary. Cool.
What this is showing me, is that all this other stuff I was bringing in and overtly “hinting” at in my latest re-write (because I had learned them the first time through and thought I should foreshadow earlier, etc) might actually be better left to be dealt with in “Book 2”, assuming this one gets any mileage. Unfortunately, it does make it tricky to say that this one will work as a stand alone. I simply have too much to go on with … unless I write this very, very long, and I know I should avoid that as a first-timer. I can’t guarantee that I have enough mileage for a trilogy, though. A two-book series would be a bit odd … I shall have to ponder. But, this is what this analytical phase is going to show me, because I plan to plot out a potential second book in the process … I already know how I would like to open it. That image has been tucked away for a while.
It’s been an interesting journey. When I started writing, my characters would do and say things, and I knew they felt right, but (and in particular for my antagonist) I couldn’t put into words the WHY. I had a “feeling” about his mind, and what he wanted, but until I gave him back-story, I didn’t have the ‘why’ down. And, then I gave him back-story, and my protags back-stories, but somewhere along the line I think I got a bit too convoluted, and I had to change things about the story to suit these cool back-stories … but, I wonder if I should do it the other way. Because, heck, it ain’t the back-stories you’re reading, it’s the STORY! So, the story is the bit that needs to be good. That’s the bonus of fiction versus reality – sometimes it is the present that can shape the past.
OK, my peeps. I think I have subjected you to my procrastination rant for long enough. Time to coax this puppy into shape, do some copying and pasting, and moulding and crafting, give it some wings, and let it fly …
PS: Something else that is rather exciting is that, for the first Act, at least, I can also see “Action-Reaction” Units across scenes … I think that’s cool.