Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday!

I feel like I haven't done a progress report like this in forever, because I've been revising for ages, and recently, querying :).

I feel like I've learned a ton writing my first novel, Legacy of the Empress, and now that I'm ready to dive back into my second (Hollow Land), I know what to change and what to avoid.

I'm about 5500 words into my novel right now, and I realized, I had a lot of backstory and needed to start with more action. However, to start with action, I needed to fill in some holes in the brief outline I'd created. My husband and I sat down last night and brainstormed like you wouldn't believe. I feel incredibly confident now that I know where the story is headed, and now that I have someone else who thinks my plot is solid, too.

Here are some tips I've picked up from this experience:

1) If you find a plot hole in your outline--PLUG IT. I've learned from experience that it's better to brainstorm various options now then put it off until later and get stuck and have to do a big re-write. Last night, when I came to a sticky spot, my husband and I threw out crazy ideas while I took notes until something stuck. Don't be afraid to experiment :).

2) Get a partner to help with your outline. Get someone you trust and show them your outline, then talk about it step by step. They'll be able to tell you up front if parts of your plot seem wonky, weak, or missing entirely. You can go into your first draft with a boost of confidence that you're at least working with a solid foundation.

3) Take notes! If you have an idea about what feelings you want a scene to evoke or how you want your characters to react to it, note it briefly in your outline. Trust me, this will help later on when you're writing it.

4) Remember that nothing's set in stone. You can change anything you'd like at any time :). An outline isn't a ball and chain, it's a key to freedom! Now, you don't have to be afraid of getting "blocked" because you don't know where you're going, but you're also free to let the story take on a mind of it's own. Use the outline as a tool--don't let it use you!

So, what about you guys? Are there any projects that you're working on? :)


Dawn Embers said...

Sounds like you are making some good progress. Those are some great tips. Good blog post.

I have a novel I'm almost done writing the first draft and another I started rewriting. I'm not much of an outliner but it might be a good idea to do a more detailed one for the rewrite novel.

Candyland said...

SUCH a good idea to fix problems early on. I've rewritten one ms four times because I learned this lesson too late!

Stephanie said...

Good luck!! I have been in edit mode FOREVER!! More than a year.... Unfortunately there's no end in site...if it's not one project, it's another!! Yay for you to be in creative mode! I'm hoping to get back there my summer!

Darlyn said...

You're really lucky to have someone who isn't afraid to point our the weak points of your writing/outline.

All my family members are too nice, and my friends don't really like to read. :P

Good luck with your queries.

Ann said...

How wonderful your husband is so supportive and helpful!

At the moment I have an idea percolating. I have four characters who have introduced themselves. I just need to figure out what is they are all about. Only have a very broad overview at present. Your post, full of great tips as usual.

Good luck with the plot plugging!

Tere Kirkland said...

I'm working on two projects right now, with one on the back burner. I'm hoping to have at least one of those ready to query this month.

Good luck with your outline!

SJDuvall said...

I love outlining. And my best friend (also known as my muse) helps me all the time when I need someone to bounce ideas off of. It's great.

I'm currently in the break between finishing the first draft of a novel and diving back in to edit. I think I'll give it another week then get to work. :)