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…

Something Beautiful

Pulled this from the following website:  http://www.upworthy.com/bullies-called-him-pork-chop-he-took-that-pain-with-him-and-then-cooked-it-into?g=2&c=ufb1

“Shane Koyczan was bullied a lot when he was a kid. So he took that pain and made this stunning video with the help of some amazingly talented people. It’s kind of breathtaking and powerful, just a warning. Also, it has a happy ending.” – Adam Mordecai

Actions Shout, Words Are Silent

I read a story today about a woman who found the perfect guy – sympathetic, kind, seemingly big-hearted, sexually amazing, and heartbroken by an ex who didn’t appreciate him (which is why he left her).  Their romance was hot and heavy for awhile…until she looked him up on Facebook and found out that he was married.  In fact, he had been married this entire time…to the ‘ex’ whom he claimed to have left.

Needless to stay, when he came over that night, she confronted him.  He admitted everything, but with sympathetic qualifiers, “We’re having problems,” “We haven’t had sex in forever,” etc.  She kicked him out right there.  Good for you, girl.

But I asked myself, how could such a thing happen?  How could he have pulled the wool over her eyes so completely and for so long?  I asked it because similar things have happened to me.  I think we all have been in her spot at some point in her life.  Duped by someone in whom we placed fragile trust.  So why is that we go partially truth-blind when we hear what we want from whom we want?

The woman in the story mentally replayed the events leading up to her revelation.  And she noticed quirks.  When she suggested meeting at his place, he’d refuse, saying her place was neater, closer, whatever.  She never met any of his friends.  Or family.  And he was only available at certain times.

Looking back, she realized his actions were SHOUTING the truth.  His words were one thing – they were sweet honey, designed to be exactly what she craved.  For all the cleverness of his words, he couldn’t mask the truth of his actions.  Because actions are ‘must-do’s’, the unavoidable part of truth.  Even the best liars DO differently than what they say.  They can’t escape the actions they do differently than their lies.  And that’s bound to leave signs, trails, consequences, etc.

I’m dealing with something similar in a few areas of my life, and I thought this story was a great reminder to listen to ACTIONS not words.  No matter how sweet the words are, if the actions aren’t as sweet, proceed with extreme caution.  A sad warning, but a necessary one.  If I get up the courage, I’ll post a little more detail about my conundrum.  But that’s for another night, dear reader.  Whoever you are.

More thoughts to come…

-rD

Alabama Shakes

Hot damn, that lead singer from Alabama Shakes can WAIlL!  Where have you been all my life, darling?  I suspect many road trip playlists will be in our future.

Gut-churning pain and rip-roaring defiance wrapped in a shocking vulnerability.

The whole album, BOYS AND GIRLS, is a twangy, piano-stomping revelation.  Okay, I need my hands back for clapping and spazzy dancing gestures.

More thoughts to come…

-rD