I had this wonderful plan to get a week’s worth of posts queued up over the weekend so I could concentrate on other things this week.
That got derailed somewhere between an early-morning cold-weather hike and fermenting on my couch. I can’t even blame the football playoffs for that last bit…I gave up cable a couple years back, so there is no channel surfing for me (just streaming).
Ah well, that just means I have to bang out a post for today…and it has to be quick as the real world is catching up with me. Of course, it doesn’t help that I just wasted a half-hour on a five hundred word rant for a naval blog/site I take part in.
I am, it must be said, behind in working on Silence. I figure it takes me 9-10 months to complete a full 120,000 word story from initial exploration to final editing. If I were at all efficient, and could keep from channeling my inner-slacker, I could probably cut that by 2-3 months.
Then the writing might start to feel like work, and work is a four-letter word I try to avoid (err, the only four-letter word I avoid…).
If you haven’t noticed, I’m also not terribly focused this morning. I am pretty much a squirrel-ridden mess at the moment.
So, back to being behind.
When I outline the plot for a story, I actually do it in stages. After the initial explorations and quick summaries/synopses, I sit down and break the plot into several arcs: the main/overall arc and a handful of sub-arcs.
Maybe I’m over-complicating things, but bear with me.
Silence has five significant arcs: the overall plot, Connor’s personal journey, a building socio-political conflict, Nat’s personal arc, and a personal arc specific to a new character. Crap…I am over-complicating. Oh well, in for a penny…
What slowed me down and put me on the wrong side of my timeline is clarifying and detailing those arcs. For each one, after I have an initial 300 word(ish) summary, I sit down and work out a detailed, individual outline.
That process forces me to think about each arc as its own story. Each has to have tension, build-up, a goal, stakes (that sense of threat & risk), and a climax. You know the drill…the very same things the story-as-a-whole has to have to make it readable and entertaining.
Working through those outlines helps me find problems and weaknesses. It also, inevitably, causes me to re-think choices and options. Some things seem great when I originally dream them up, but fail when I get down into the dirt with them. Other times I get this itching urge to add something new…
Both happened during this process.
The first three arcs I mentioned above are the most important, and the most intertwined. Keep in mind, at the same time I am working on this stuff, I am also finishing the details of my characters. That process brings up its own changes and roadblocks.
At the end of last week I pretty much rewrote the last third of the main story arc. Some things in the background of my antagonist changed my thinking at basically the same time I found some weakness in my original plot idea.
So, out goes all the stuff I worked out for that last third and in comes a new way of doing things and…PRESTO! I’m behind!
Ah well, I knew that job was dangerous when I took it!