If you happen to follow the “Current Work In Progress” meter to the right, you might notice a drastic change. It’s not an illusion or a joke, my work in progress has fallen from 25% done at 15,000+ words to just above 10,000 words. Maybe you’re scratching your head wondering, why? Today I chronicle the tough decision I felt forced to make, and what I have been spending the last few days doing about it.
First off, why chop a third of my work in progress? The simple answer is, I had painted myself into a corner. I hated it. When I first started The Veil, I had a vision of it focusing very closely on the main character. The cast would only expand if the story became a series. I already had characters in mind and how they fit into what would become a team setting. The first book, however, was about finding yourself. Where I had taken the story, characters appeared far quicker than I had anticipated. My story about a young man finding himself turned into more of a super-team book. Not what I wanted. So I retraced my steps and asked where I went wrong. The point I decided on meant a third of the work got intimate with the delete button.
So where do I go now?
As discussed in previous posts, writing wildly ahead without a plan or direction is the wrong approach for me. Like a stubborn fool, I continued to do just that and got myself into trouble. So I decided to make a plan.
I asked the Twitter gods if there was some sort of form for a plot outline. I enjoy filling in forms. Having some structure gives me security. Unfortunately, the Twitter gods decided to ignore me that day. Or perhaps were too busy preparing for the Lost finale. Regardless, I was on my own.
First thing I did was look at Martina Boone’s Plotting Made Easy – The Complications Worksheet. This gave me some idea of what I should accomplish in each section of the story.
Secondly, I thought long and hard about the Hero’s Journey. My character’s arc fit the hero journey, so I gave close consideration to the various components.
Third, I allowed my idea to run free. I said, “If this is the world I’ve created, what’s possible?” The more I asked what could happen, the more did happen. I started having some pretty wild ideas. They worked. They fit together. My story excited me again.
With these new ideas, I wrote a synopsis of the story. It was dirty. It had holes in it. I would never give it to anyone if I wanted them to read my book. But it gave me a framework to pin things on.
Then, I created a space that I called Themes & Ideas. I used this space just to write words and random sentences. Some were about mood, others about deeper themes and meanings. I used it as a space to brainstorm with no restrictions.
Out of those random thoughts, I was able to return to my synopsis and start plugging holes and touching up the paint.
Last night, I started putting together scenes. For each scene I asked;
- Scene – [Title]
- What’s the Purpose of the Scene:
- What Action Happens:
- What Do We Learn That’s New:
Making sure that every scene answered these points fleshed out the story. It was more cohesive. No scene could be a throw-away, I forced myself to justify their existence. I didn’t worry about order, I just wrote scenes. As their number expanded, I saw where they fit together. When I have more, I will create a new file and copy the scenes in their proper order. When that’s complete, I’ll have my plot map. Then the fun starts!
While it was hard to kill a lot of work, this new direction is far more exciting and satisfying. It stays truer to the original vision I had while still managing to provide surprises.
This process is frustrating to a “I want it done now” kind of person. Which I confess, I am. Truth, though, cannot be denied. This is the only way this book is getting written.