Score One for the Plotters!

First of all, I finished the full draft of Crow's Rest yesterday! Cullooh! Callay!

Of course, that doesn't mean it's finished. But it's worth taking a moment to celebrate before diving into revisions. I also wanted to take a sec to talk about the process for this book.

Before even starting on Crow's Rest, I did things a little different from the mostly-pantsing method used to plot my first book: I took the time to do a very detailed outline.

And let me tell you, it paid off big time. Whenever I had writer's block, or had spent some time away from the manuscript, the outline got me back on track. And whenever I had a shiny new plot idea flirt my way, I could look at my original framework and see if it enhanced the story or just cluttered it up. (For the record, most of them would have just cluttered it up. I would have enjoyed writing them immensely, but self-indulgence doesn't always improve the book).

The only drawback was that it was harder for me to get the ending out. When I was pantsing, I was just as eager to find out how the book ended as the reader would be (hopefully!). But since I'd done such a detailed outline, I felt like there weren't any surprises and I was just filling in some blanks.

My bad guy had different ideas on that subject and threw me a few curveballs. So that was fun. I feel like the Big Confrontation is not quite Big enough, but at least now I have something down on the page to play with.

The other place the outline will help me is with charting the story arc (I like Vogler's Hero's Journey and Alderson's Plot Whisperer methods). I certainly kept the arc in mind while preparing the outline, and charting it is a great way to check that I hit all the correct notes in the drafting process.

And interestingly, I had worked on a practice query early on (and it got a request in WriteOnCon, btw) and put the estimated finished length at around 70,000. That estimate was based on the somewhat-spare first draft coming in at 65,000, plus another 5,000 in revisions to flesh out characters, motivations, etc. Well, the first draft clocked in at 64,967 words! Not bad.

If you have a finished draft to play with too, you might be interested in checking out Operation Awesome's NewYear's Revision Conference. It starts with a critique partner matchup on Jan. 3, and then the conference on the 4, 5, and 6. Authors, agents, and bloggers, oh my!


Ava Z. said...

Congrats on finishing your first draft!

I've battled with writer's block for a long time now. Seems the only time I really get any writing done is NaNoWriMo time when I have a deadline and a goal. I've always been a "panster" kind of writer, and as you mentioned, I felt a little too constricted with my outline at times, which is why I became a "panster" in the first place.

However, after suffering writer's block for so long, maybe a detailed outline is exactly what I need.

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