Monday, March 13, 2017

In Which I Reveal That I am a Panther (and other writing things)

Last month I applied for some summer writing workshops and one of them required that I send a chapter of my novel, along with a detailed (2-3 page) novel outline.

This is gonna sound like Writer 101, but I hadn't really written a detailed novel outline yet. I had been working from a three-act structure outline (a great breakdown of this, and other plot structures, on Janice Hardy's blog here), but as far as a scene-by-scene outline ... nope. Didn't have one.

I'm a panther; this baby is my book.
This is fine. Writers often divide into plotters and pantsers--people who plan ahead of time, or people who write by the seat of their pants. I'm kind of in-between. I had the major beats charted out but when it came to writing the bits that connected those beats, I was a pantser. Note: my computer wants to autocorrect that to "panther," so that is my new official writing type.

When I wrote this detailed outline, I realized a couple things.

First, SO MUCH HAPPENS IN MY BOOK. It is kind of breathtaking all the shit that goes down. Which, on the one hand, is good. Fun, action-packed, complex novel, right? On the other hand ... holy wow there are like 4 major plotlines that I need to weave together so that events, themes, motivations, etc. converge at just the right moment.

Second, I have so much to gain from a scene-by-scene analysis of my book that I'm stunned and slightly guilt-ridden that I didn't do it earlier. How much stronger would my book be if I knew how scene 23 connects back to what's already happened, how it moves the plotlines forward, and how it sets up for events that will happen later?

But there's no sense in beating myself up for what I didn't do yet. This is my first novel; I'm learning.

What's really exciting is that I can suddenly see, like I'm Sherlock hallucinating diagrams in mid-air, how to make my book so much better. It's already good, but I'm about to make it kick-ass. And I can't wait.

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