I’ll admit, I haven’t really done any outlining since my last post. I’ve made up for it today with two new parts, and getting some new software set up for tomorrow.
I read this post about Dabble, and thought I would give it a shot. Simplistic UI, auto-saving to cloud, ability to create plot points and shift them around? Sounds fun. Since I’ve only finished one roughdraft to date, I have no idea what works for me, so trying something new is never a bad idea.
So here I sit with just under ten hours remaining and four of five parts outlined in Dabble. I will get that last part out before I head into work for a bit of overtime, and then I will prepare for a midnight sprint to begin this National Novel Writing Month. I don’t have a specific goal for tonight: just write, write, write. Then, in all likelihood, come back here to write about how I wrote and what a mad rush it was.
I took the plunge and did the first step: outlining my novel as a subdivision of five parts. The decision to label them explicitly within the novel will come later. For now, they are a way of organizing my work into distinct acts. Of course, anything can change as I go on.
Now I’ve given myself the task of fleshing out each part with “chapter” outlines. I’m identifying key scenes and the events surrounding them, and will probably only go this far in the outline process. The rest will be narrative linking them, and I will get into the whole of determining how much goes between each major point as I go along.
I have to keep reminding myself that the most important word is ROUGH: this is a first draft and I don’t need to get hung up on refining things. I need a framework, a skeleton. I will sculpt the muscles and the flesh at a later time. I need raw material to work with.
For the moment, I’ve got two out of five parts “fully” outlined. Not bad for just past halfway into the month. I’m doing my best to give myself incentives: do some work in a cafe, or bring home a bar of chocolate I won’t open until I reach my daily goal. (Dark chocolate, sea salt, believe me it was WORTH it.)
I feel happy with my progress so far, and each consistent bit of work I can put behind me makes me more confident that I can keep going and accomplish what I set out to do. I’ve also decided to outline in a notebook I can carry around, and type up the result in Scrivener when I’ve completed it. I should take to keeping it in my bag; I was on the way home from an appointment earlier and wished I’d had the chance to stop at a café and work there. At least I got it done at home.
Oh, look. The second update in twelve months! Shocking.
So, what’s new? I’ve got a job that actually gives me decent benefits, including insurance, so I’ve been seeing a therapist on a regular basis for a while now. She’s helped me iron out some of the wrinkles in my romantic life, and we’ve recently turned our attention to other goals. We’ve discussed writing in a few sessions, and my propensity for making excuses to keep my ass out of my chair.
One of the excuses is that my apartment is not what I want it to be. There is no separation, so the same space where I play games and watch Netflix is the space I’m meant to use to write. Naturally, there are worse obstacles, and I can overcome this one with a bit of discipline.
My therapist and I discussed momentum, and how that begins with a single, simple action. She suggested I set a goal for myself that is easily achievable, and then the fact of having completed a small task will likely lead me to go further and do more. For instance, rather than say I will plant myself in my seat and write another novel, I will set myself a goal to outline the first three chapters. Easy.
That’s what I’m doing here. I’m setting myself a goal to outline a few chapters of a novel. The grand scheme is that I finish an outline before the end of October and throw myself into NaNoWriMo 2017, but I’m not focusing on the bigger picture here. I’m looking to get some momentum going by taking that first, tiny step. The rest should follow.
One of the best ways to set a project aside for a time is to move on to a new one, right? I have begun outlining Project: Destiny, a fantasy story which is one of my oldest ideas. General advice suggested not to bring my baby to NaNoWriMo, so I opted for something newer then. Now that I’ve finished that project, it’s time to return to my roots.
I find that the self-imposed deadline works pretty well for me in lieu of actual deadlines, so I am giving myself until the end of January to outline the story in its entirety. One month seems like plenty of time, and then I’m also giving myself a nice stopping point. Perhaps once a month has passed, I will be ready to set my completed outline aside and return to Climbing Yggdrasil for editing.
In the days leading up to NaNoWriMo, I created a fairly ramshackle outline and ended up adding a fair amount to the beginning and even more to the end. This time around, I want an entire story outlined from start to finish. A nice, solid road to walk on with signs and everything. Naturally, I will find the occasional dirt path leading off to more interesting vistas, and I won’t let prior planning get in the way of these deviations. If a story is willing to take me places, I have to let it if I want to see if those places are any good.
Climbing Yggdrasil features very few points of view. The bulk of the story is told from the third person, from the captain’s POV. This occasionally shifts to other crewmembers from time to time when circumstances force them to split up, but we aren’t regularly in another character’s head. The exception is the synchronizer, who gets a short POV chapter every few chapters or so, told from the first person.
Destiny is different in that it has a larger cast of characters in different geographical locations, so the POV shifts more regularly than it did in Yggdrasil. For this reason, I’m taking advantage of Scrivener’s ability to color code index cards in the corkboard view; each major POV character gets their own color so that it’s easy for me to see if I’ve ignored one of them for too long. I also want to revisit the Scrivener tutorial to see if there are other tools I didn’t use in Yggdrasil that might serve me well in Destiny. There is a lot more history in this story, a lot more notes on the way things work from government to magic. I haven’t been idle all these years, I’ve built up quite a skeleton for this story. Now I have to put some meat on the bones.