Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Story Outline--What Have I Got Myself Into???

OMG! Who knew this was going to take this long??? I've been working on the outline for my upcoming book since, I'm almost embarrassed to say, March. Granted, I encountered some personal setbacks that kept me from my work (theft), but still, I'd hoped that by now I'd at least be in the middle of the chapter by chapter outline. NOT! Heck! I was planning on locking myself up in a hotel room next weekend--you know, away from it all--to get started writing my manuscript (AGAIN) with my handy-dandy story outline by my side. Hopefully, I don't have to change my plans.

Everyday that I pull my outline out of my totebag to update, I keep repeating the words of my online instructor, "It's better to rewrite and rewrite while you're outlining. Better to get the story clear and concise in the outline form than to find yourself stuck midway through a manuscript." Deep down I have faith that this is true. The more clear that my story is becoming to me, I clearly see why I ran into the brick wall in the latter part of 2010. Sure, my idea was HOT! I had no doubt about that. Problem was I hadn't spent any time developing that HOT idea into a well-structured story. When I started writing, I still had the characters from my first novel, Unfinished Business, stuck in my head--I'd been writing it so long, they were encased in me. Let me explain. My upcoming novel, Reconciliation to Hell, is a spinoff of Unfinished Business. The main character in the second book was a secondary character in the first book. However, I was into the third chapter of Reconciliation to Hell when I realized that I was still writing in the voice of the main character from the first book! And believe me when I tell you that these characters are complete opposites!

Anyway, as frustrating as this process has been over the last few weeks, I wouldn't trade it for the world. In fact, I'm looking forward to applying this outlining process to the many unfinished articles that I have started and stopped over the years. They're some really great ideas that just need a little developing.

I only wish that I'd started working on this darn outline like five years ago while I was preparing to publish my first book. I'm sure I'd be ready to write right about now, if not near finished with the first draft. Oh well, you live and you learn, right?

Tell me your experience. How does or doesn't outlining work for you? Do you complete your entire outline before you start writing? Is the outline a work in progress as you write the manuscript?

Update: I'll be in that hotel this weekend with or without a completed outline! Either way it goes, this weekend will be a writing-filled weekend and I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Published Authors Benefit from Continuing Education Too

Any day now, I expect to be up to my neck (not literally, of course) in pages of my new manuscript. Why any day now and not right now? If you've been keeping up with my blog, you'll probably remember a post or two about my progress on my second novel. Well, I wasn't lying. I did actually start the manuscript several months ago, but like with my first manuscript, I hit a brick wall--unfortunately a lot sooner than I expected.

Isn't it funny how powerful a story idea can hit you--of course while you're in the middle of another project? Anyway, when the idea for my upcoming novel, Reconciliation to Hell, came to me I couldn't wait to be finished with Unfinished Business! I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this would surely be the novel that would put my name of the tongues of literary giants! So it's easy to imagine my utter disappointment when I finally got started on my breakout novel only to hit that all too familiar brick wall. Can you see the tears???

What did I do next? Just like when I was writing Unfinished Business, I put it down, feeling defeated but determined to get rejuvenated. That rejuvenation never came. However, I didn't remain defeated. Instead, I sought out a little literary help by way of Ed2Go. I enrolled in Writing Fiction Like a Pro, a class that promised to leave me with an complete outline of my book project that would enable me to write, and write more swiftly and concisely from beginning to end.

The result: So far so good. The class ended in May. I experienced a minor setback shortly before that when my totebag with A LOT of my writing material was stolen. But, I didn't stay down for long. Being the eternal optimist I decided that it wasn't the worst thing that could've happened since I was going to start my story over from the beginning anyway. Now, I don't have a choice.

Goal: Today is June 8th. I plan to begin writing no later than the weekend of June 24th, Until that time, I'm marinating on the checkpoints of my outline and sketching out subplots of secondary characters.