Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Before it's suddenly Road Trip Wednesday again...

I should check in, I suppose. I wanted to thank those who gave feedback on my last post about how I obsessively outline. I also wanted to add that I had been in the habit of not allowing myself to add new stuff to the outline until I worked through a chapter in the draft (my meager effort at pushing myself out of the nest). I'm not sure that I'm over-preparing necessarily, since I don't even really have a plot nailed down yet. And one last note on the subject before it becomes a string of excuses (if it hasn't already), I suppose saying I've been working for two years isn't accurate. It has been that long since I started, but I do a lot more than just write and I go through long spans of time when I don't even open my documents, let alone work in them in favor of other projects. I've got a spreadsheet with word counts and dates that would tell me exactly how much time I've spent on it. Unfortunately, that is all on the harddrive that died on me last week.

Yes, a day after that last post, my Linux partition where I keep absolutely anything and everything developed disk errors and no longer shows up, even in repair mode. It will not boot up, period. It's like it's not even there. The worst part is, I am an idiot and did not have backups in place. I'm sending it off to a data recovery service to see if I can get my files from that partition. They seem confident, but can't tell me for sure until they take a look at it.

That means I'm back to outline land, in a notebook, with a pen.

But it's not all bad. Facing the very real possibility that I might have to start over has made me look at my story with fresh eyes. There were a lot of things, particularly about the beginning, that were not working for one reason or another. I contemplated scrapping the first six chapters or so. Last night, I outlined the first three chapters using only the elements I thought deserved rescue from my original. The plot is coming together and I feel there is coherent direction this time, rather than just a bunch of scenes.

Another thing I realized, even before the harddrive fail, was that the early encounters between my main two protagonists were throwing the story into paranormal romance territory and that is a place I'd rather avoid at this time. So, I've given them a greater need to come together than just romantic entanglement. Something that drives the plot forward, which was not happening before. I'm very happy with the progress I've made and also very happy that I didn't waste time drafting those useless chapters.

This is why I outline. But there does need to be some balance and I have languished in outline land perhaps too long. My problem before was that I was just jotting down scenes as they came to me, which is fine. But in between that work, I need to be pushing the story along. So, my outline was turning into an unformatted draft instead of a true outline. Last night I put two chapters on the front and back of a single page of a journal sized notebook. My old outline may have taken 4 single-spaced, typed pages for that much story. My map was becoming too much of a detailed guidebook.

So, I've found my silver lining and am enjoying the fresh perspective and a truncated approach to outlining.

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