Thursday, April 13, 2006
Outlined Another Story, OCCUPANT
My current weekly goal is to complete Chapter 8 of my current novel, THE REFLECTING STONE, by Sunday evening. However, I've been dealing with interruptions lately. Even when I have blocks of time for writing new material, I get enough interruptions that I lose my focus/concentration and end up just rereading what I recently wrote, making slight enhancements, trying to "get into it" so I can add to the story. I spin my wheels, never quite getting there. It's not productive.
Seeing this situation developing again on Wednesday, I got smart and didn't even try to work on my current novel. Instead, I brainstormed details for another novel, OCCUPANT, based on an idea I've had for several years now. It turns out I can do this type of work even with some interruptions. I like the new ideas. They add a lot to the basic premise I already had. (Sorry, I won't share any details until after I complete THE REFLECTING STONE! Part of the discipline of keeping myself on one major project until it is completed!)
I was impressed with the quality and quantity of the output. Using a twelve-step, three-act outline as a guide (the same framework I used in outlining THE REFLECTING STONE), I made connections between different parts of the story, developed several meaningful subplots, and arranged scenes in a sequence that introduces the characters and situation then raises questions, building suspense over time. The story is focused and intriguing, with characters that are three-dimensional and believable.
I also found a way to adapt my existing table for plot outlining to create shorter chapters. In THE REFLECTING STONE, the chapters currently run about 10,000 words each. I want to keep them to 1,000 to 3,000, typically around 2,000, in the future!
I completed the twelve-step plot, wrote several pages of notes drawing out the characters and various key scenes, then reworked all of it into a revised scene-level outline for the first Act. It'll take several more hours to complete the revision and scene details for the remaining Acts, but I'll keep this on a side burner until it's finished. The material for the Act I is already detailed and solid enough I could begin writing it, but I don't want to start writing anything else until after my current novel is finished. I am comfortable working on several things at once, but I want to make sure THE REFLECTING STONE is finished and ready to shop around by summer.
So, keeping up the effort, finding some way to be productive, but not yet done with Chapter 8! I'll probably have to play catch up this weekend, the way I did last weekend. That's okay, as long as it's done by Sunday evening, which I'm using as my weekly deadline. I want to complete a chapter a week until the remaining chapters are done, then I can do the editing. I think THE REFLECTING STONE is far enough along now and what I have is solid enough at this point that I no longer need to do significant editing every 2-3 chapters.