Outline It Now…or Chalk Outline It Later

Day 532 – Endless words followed by a sea of blank pages.  They stare at me.  Taunting, telling me that I need to write more. This. Never. Ends.

It’s actually Day 4.  But it’s Day 4 of outline revisions, so it feels like it’s been forever.  Anyone familiar with writing understands that outlining is brutal.  You’re not just trying to figure out how the puzzle pieces fit, you’re also creating the pieces while not knowing exactly what the final picture looks like.

But this stage is so damn important.  The most beautiful prose in the world ain’t gonna fix a terrible plot.  (I’m mainly typing this to inspire myself because, in all honesty, this phase blows.)

The challenge is to merge:

a) Structure

b) Character Development

c) Logic

d) Originality

and

e) Something F*cking Interesting

There are or course a plethora of sub-sections to consider (set pieces, etc), but if any of these five things don’t work through the entire story, the outline’s not ready.  I’ve still made an immense amount of discoveries while writing, but I think of it this way: the outline is the strong, firm architecture on which everything else is built.  The stronger the architecture, the more you’re hedging your bets that the house will be half-way decent.  The house should only get better from here, not worse.

It’s also a lot easier to see where the story doesn’t work (and why) when looking at a 12 page outline as opposed to a 500 page manuscript.  Easier to revise too.

So…with that said, I will attempt to dive back in.  Yes, I’m procrastinating.  But it’s only because I love you.  And not because I don’t want to work.  No, really.

New Beginnings

It’s time to jumpstart this sucker.

All previous iterations of this journal never really had point.  And because of that lack of focus, a through-line to string along my own attention, I never felt the urge to write in this thing.

But now, I have a point.

I am writing a book.  Yes.  A book.  Am I insane?  Maybe.  Probably.  It may never get published.  Heck, it may never get read. But if at the end of my life, I look back and realize I had never tried, I will kick myself.  If I’m too brittle to do it, I will have someone else do it.  Preferably with small feet.

So what’s the point of this thing?  First and foremost, to hold myself accountable.  I will post at least once a week.  And I will record how many pages I’ve written since my last entry.  With a consuming 12+ hour/day full-time job, churning out pages is hard, but my goal is to produce 5 pages every other day.  Some weeks, I anticipate hitting that goal.  Other weeks… not so much.  But hey, at least I can shame myself here!  And you can shame me too with comments like, “WHY HAVEN’T YOU WRITTEN, YOU LAZY BUM?!”  I look forward to those.  Really.

The second point of this journal (I hate the word blog – it sounds like the burpy upchuck sound you make when you’ve had too much to drink but can’t throw up) is to record all my thoughts, mistakes, non-mistakes and mini-revelations made along the way.  A way of recording this journey so I can look back and see all the dumb stuff I did (and probably will still be doing, just with more words on the page).

Full disclosure: I work in a somewhat related entertainment field that focuses on storytelling, just in different mediums, so I am starting with some basic storytelling knowledge.  We’ll see if any of that translates to writing literature.

Consider this entry #1.  In the beginning…kinda: I have a 7 page outline with 59 beats.  I also have around 12,000 words.  My goal is to hit 60,000-ish since that seems to be industry standard for this particular genre.  The first step is to revise that outline.  I want that done by next Wednesday.  After pitching a few friends, I realized some basic flaws in the original story.  My rule: if two or more have the same note, they’re right.  Make the change.  So let’s see how diligently I can revise this outline…and revise it again…and revise it again… until I’m satisfied to go back and revise the 12,000 words.  And then keep going.

Thanks for listening to me ramble.  More to come.

This should be fun…