It’s time for another Absolute Write blog chain, and this time our fearless leader is Ralph at Neither Here Nor There. He started us off with his post about the agony of working on the second draft of his novel in Of Anxieties, Frustrations and Self-Imposed Deadlines; if you haven’t read it, you should. I’ll wait.
Tonight, I can only aspire to know Ralph’s pain. I am thisclose to finishing the first draft of Meet the Larssons, the novel I’ve been working on since January 2. I wrote something over 3,000 words yesterday alone; I finally called it a night out of sheer exhaustion sometime after 1am. The draft is currently over 102,000 words long.
But I didn’t finish it. I have at least two scenes left to go: the final scene I’ve had in mind since I first hashed out a couple of pages of notes on January 2, and one scene to get me there. If I hadn’t spent all evening working on a brief, I might have finished it this evening. As it is, I may not get any concentrated time to work on it until Monday, because the whole family is trekking out to New York for a wedding. We leave tomorrow, and because we’ve got a box full of crazy with our names on it, we’re driving to the Catskills in one day. Road trip! So I probably won’t finish until next week, which is a little frustrating.
Not as frustrating as it’s going to be restructuring MTL after I type “The End,” though. Those few pages of notes are the only outline I’ve ever done for this book, and it shows. If I’d spent more time outlining, I might not have had to do as much reworking in the second draft; I might even have bee able to skip the second draft altogether and go straight to the third draft, editing words one at a time instead of moving around entire chapters. On the other hand, I might never have started writing the novel at all, and just figuratively tossed those notes into the same cluttered drawer with all of my other unfinished (or unstarted) ideas for novels or stories over the past 15 years.
Once I have this novel under my belt, though, when I start my next one — and there will be a next one — I expect to spend a lot more time outlining it, maybe chapter by chapter. I have always thought of myself as an organic writer as opposed to an outliner, but I think I’ll try it the other way to see if it works better.
So what about you, Sassee? Do you outline, or do you just start throwing words onto the page?
Neither Here Nor There
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South Asia Fair
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Hee… my process is so messed up. Post inc soon.
I tried outlining once. I finished the outline and I felt like I told the story. So definitely organic for me. I do plan though I just don’t outline.
Have fun in New York.
Outlines for me are fluid. I usually start writing based on something like a voice, a character, and just begin writing. With my novel, I really didn’t have a clue where it was going at first. Eventually, when I knew my protagonist better, I knew how the novel would end but I just let the rest write itself. I’m only disciplined in terms of sitting down and writing. I try not to steer that writing in any particular direction because it doesn’t work very well. The novel has flashbacks and was written in no particular order. Eventually, I had to place present and past sections in some kind of order which was very hard and I’m still not sure I got it exactly right. But, I’m not messing with it any more until an agent or editor tells me to.
My one completed novel was written organically, and so is a mess, and is still sitting on my hard drive waitng for me to work up the energy to re-attack it. This time, I’m outlining. The story is much more plot-driven and sequential this time around as well, so I hope not to get lost in the swamp again.
Great post, although the title sounds a wee bit naughty!
I have to outline as I go along. I generally know about 25K ahead, and as I write up to that point, I sit down and do some more outlining. It’s so weird because if I try to outline more than that, the story falls flat; if I outline less, I run blind and get stonewalled.
To each their own, I guess.
Personally, I think both organic writing and outlining are crucial steps to accomplishing any writing project, particularly one that is long. I tend to go back and forth between organic and outline within any given work. Sometimes I’ll start with an outline, but more typically, I’ll start by just writing and seeing where it takes me — this is true of both my fiction and also my academic writing, by the way. But at some point, I’ll stop and outline what I’ve got and sketch out the remainder. With my dissertation, I had to provide an outline to my committee early on in the process. It helped keep me from panicking about the scope of the project to have it broken down into shorter chunks. But as the writing process goes on, the outline gets altered. After each chapter, I stop and outline what I’ve already written. This helps me to remap the project as needed, to make sure my arguments are sound, and to check and make sure I’m not repeating myself too much as I move text around from place to place.
I think I do a little of both…I outline a little ways ahead, say, the most immediately upcoming chapters to that when I sit at a blank screen, I have a starting point. But that leaves room for me to make changes. So I as I get to the end of what I have outlined, I outline a few more chapters based on what I ended up doing in the ones before.
I make an outline but it is almost impossible for me to follow it. Well, I think that it is somehow related to age. When are young and more restless, it is difficult to stick to a plan.
My first novel was a terrible mess for the first couple of drafts. I tore out scenes, added new ones, rewrote characters all over the place. It’s been through so many revisions I’ve lost count, which is probably why it’ll stay safety trunked.
I think I had a vague outline for it, but the story came to me so ingrained in my head that I didn’t really need one. It was something I had to write for me, to get it out there. Not necessarily a book worth selling.
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just signed up and wanted to say hello while I read through the posts
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