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Started back in on my 21-step novel-preparation program this week, completing steps 15, 16, and 17. My idea was to ease back into the original fiction, because I am so not a multi-tasker, and I always find it difficult to switch gears. Step 15 was fairly easy to complete last Saturday, since it was a bit of prose writing. Step 16 was the first step where you move from preparatory stuff and really begin to outline the novel. If you've been reading these writing updates, you know me and outlines are unmixy things. Nothing kills my enthusiasm faster than knowing what's going to happen in a story before I write it.

But writing The Destroyer has taught me somethings about planning ahead that don't necessarily take away the spontaneity or creativity of the process, so I'm willing to give it a try in my original fiction. When talking about step 16, the instructor of that seminar I took said, "if you can't summarize your plot in a paragraph or two, you can't outline it." Step 16 involves writing a preliminary "jacket copy" that might appear on your book in published form. I spent most of last Sunday ignoring the fact that I had planned to work on step 16 that day. I was just utterly blocked on giving my story any kind of summary. Finally, towards the end of the day, I pulled down four books that I liked. A couple of them were first books in fantasy series like I am hoping this novel will be. I read their jacket/back pages blurbs, then let that stew for a while.

About fifteen minutes before I went to bed, I suddenly belted out that two-paragraph summary in ten minutes. If I'd actually *tried* to work on it earlier in the day, it would have taken hours of my time. But I let my subconscious do the driving, and it came through.

Now when I read that summary, I already hate it, but that's just me and outlines being unmixy things again. The forest is going to grow organically up from the trees, as it always does with me, and maybe the final "jacket copy summary" will look much different. But my experience with TD has taught me you need to back and forth from the tree-growing and stepping back to assess the forest as a whole.

I spent the rest of the week on step 17, which was the first pass through at giving the basic story arc for my three "main characters." My final result was very rough and vague, but it met the letter of the assignment, if not the spirit of it. That's the other thing I've learned from fan fictioning a large work--if the outline is vague at first, that's not a failure. It's a first pass, and then you build up from there.

This week, I may or may not attempt step 18, which is filling in the blanks of the outlines I did in step 17. I think I need to flesh out what I wrote in step 17 a bit more by returning to my copious notes written over the past eleven months. Forest, trees.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 5th, 2009 08:37 pm (UTC)
sounds like progress to me. go you.

I'm learning things about my writing this week too
Sep. 5th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
It's a start. Need to finish TD and get it out of my hair.

So what'd you learn this week?
Sep. 5th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
good luck with that.

I learned that I really need to stop with these open submission calls when they have to be novella length. I keep churning out these 25-35K novellas when there's like a half dozen publishers max that will take them (less if I'm writing het sex and not m/m gay erotica)
Sep. 5th, 2009 09:35 pm (UTC)
That's a lot of work for something that might not have a market. I don't blame you.
Sep. 5th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)
it is. Even if it wasn't erotica there are very few paying novella markets. The vampire thing I'm currently whining about it probably my last unless I get an amazing bunny or know I could easily convert it to a full novel
Sep. 6th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
I say convert into a full novel. Or, that's the best alternative if the novella doesn't sell/have a market.
Sep. 6th, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
I agree, IF the story can sustain being stretched that far. So far, two off the three can be. No way in hell this vampire one could be. Right now it's struggling to be a novella
Sep. 6th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
Well, speaking for myself, I can stretch any story out to ten times its ideal length. Not that that's a good thing, LOL.
Sep. 6th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)
hahaha well there is that. the problem with the original vampire short story was it was too long for most of the short story market but on it's own without major additions it can'tbe stretched
Sep. 6th, 2009 04:45 am (UTC)
Do you like it enough to try?
Sep. 6th, 2009 04:50 am (UTC)
oh i am trying. I just dont' k now if it'll m ake the deadline
Sep. 6th, 2009 05:01 am (UTC)
Good luck!
Sep. 6th, 2009 05:07 am (UTC)
thanks. this one would need it. It would help if I could have a research trip to Las Vegas for it (that's my story and I'm sticking to it)
Sep. 6th, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC)
Hey, I won't say nothin'. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!
Sep. 6th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
Sep. 6th, 2009 01:47 am (UTC)
Short summaries just need three things: Goal, Motivation and Conflict. No subplots. No secondary characters. Just the main character, what his or her goal is, why s/he has it and what will prevent him/her from getting it.

Often the way to write it is (adjective) (noun), (name)... (adjective) is the most important part of their personality. (noun) is often their job, but it could be their race. This construction gives the audience a reason to care about the character.

Agents want three sentences for your query letter and pitch. You will end up using this a lot. From it, you will construct a two page synopsis.

It is even more important to have a one sentence summary - called a tag or log line. Then all you have to do is make sure everything in the book relates to that one sentence.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )