The Journey to a Novel part 1

It has taken a decade of research, gutted attempts, lots of “how to” reading, and carefully deconstructing books  that I enjoy before it finally just clicked. I am currently at the mid point of a writing project that has a decent chance of making it to completion and I’d like to invite you along for the ride.

First: what stopped me the other times?

  • I’d have a scene or two in mind that really resonated with me, I was so anxious to get to those scenes that I didn’t stop to write good outlines
  • I didn’t do enough character development or world building before diving in
  • I often wound up with 60,000 word manuscripts I couldn’t finish. Some of the writing was beautiful, but the plot just fizzled on me

What have I done differently this time?

I wrote the  one or two scenes that I was just DYING to write. Then I got out my handy notebook and started writing the synopsis of a story that could possibly have those scenes. Every once and a while I go back to this synopsis, tweaking it a bit as my plot becomes more and more apparent.

In this project, I was inspired by a parable in Ezekiel about an exposed infant rescued from death.

I took this story to a different setting and I asked myself questions. Who was this girl? Why was she exposed? Where was she? Who found her? What was the consequence?

For Mir Maid, the answers to these questions are the secret that everything else hinges upon.

The setting of my story soon suggested complications to the “boy meets girl” trope. He doesn’t remember that first encounter that saved her life. She flees religious duties on her home world and enters an Interstellar training Academy  in a “cursed” city orbiting her world. He is a Commander on a ship stationed there, and sworn to protect the cadets. Bad guys want the gifts residing in the girls DNA.

I soon came up with a progression of about 20 scenes that made up the love story central to my book.

What about my antagonist? What about the other people on the station? What about the process of training to serve aboard one of the ships?  Another  80 scenes were soon populated with interactions with other cadets, bad guys, consequences of the girl’s actions back on her home world.  I took the document were I’d typed my first two resonant scenes and tried to deal the other scenes between them

This is a sample from my outline. (I use # to separate scenes)

#

Frax meets with cadets. Some of the crew of Poseidon will be leaving for other ships. Cadets will complete training on Poseidon, some planetside missions possible

## Willis wants to get on one of the departing ships, argues with Bohannan

#

Lairdin and Ana, Lairdin confronts Ana in the garden about being a Maid

#

Medical Bay: Doc won’t give Willis medical clearance. Outlines her plan of treatment

#

Apolyn visits the Drandel. He is being kept sedated in Biotech hospital on Fraternity. Amazed Elion was able to overcome her mind control. Asks Dr to look into what makes this Drandel different

## Willis and Bo at Biotech hospital for second opinion, overhear conversation re Drandel. Mysterious Man in orange jumpsuit insists “Tell Lairdin Kai”

After tinkering with the outline a bit, I began to write. Sometimes I come across a scene and I’m like “I got nothing”. I skip it. Sometimes a way to write the scene comes to me later, sometimes I cut the scene and incorporate what was necessary elsewhere.

No matter what, I write. Even if it is crap, I write. Even if I have to go back the next day and completely rewrite a scene from another character’s perspective, I write. The art of writing is in  revision. The task of this leg of the journey is just to get the words out

P.S. I have been stuck at the 30,000 word mark for a few days as I rewrite some scenes that I just wasn’t satisfied with, and delete some things that stopped making sense . There are a lot of opinions about editing as you go, but I am finding that concept editing as I go keeps me from writing myself into a corner. Is where I am now a logical progression from where I started? Will it bring me to where I plan on ending up? Even with my scenes roughly sketched out, it is easy for a story to veer off course, or, as I get to know that characters a bit better, something I’d originally planned to feel “off”.

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