we are ugly, but we have the music

Posted on Posted in away come away, journal

I think my cup of tea is giving me hayfever. Can you develop a sudden and inexplicable allergy to tea? Oh farkit, if I'm now allergic to tea that's it, it's all over.

Go on without me! I'm done for! Save yourselves!

Ahem.

I have been meaning to post for a couple of days now, but I've also been trying to get my days' words before posting. This hasn't been going all that well, of late. I don't know what's up with the book (or my brain, or some no man's land where the two are attempting to meet), but it's like pulling teeth. Deep-rooted teeth. Bones of the world type teeth.

So today I come bearing writerly links. Given that it's NaNoWriMo, the internet is full of them! The theme appears to be outlining, the reason for which will doubtless become clear if it's not already.

Justine talks about the book in her head vs the book she wrote, which post came as a bit of an epiphany for me.

When I first started trying to write novels that process really bothered me. It drove me nuts that I couldn’t capture what I’d been imagining on the page. I thought it meant I was a terrible writer. But now I know it’s just part of the process and I enjoy it.

I've been obsessed with outlining and planning in advance, lately — a mindset into which I routinely sink any time the current alpha draft hits a snag and I can't figure out what's hobbling me. If only I had planned it out first! If only I were more efficient as a writer! Next novel, I'm definitely doing an outline! If only this, if only that. I need to remember that outliners face inefficiencies too (different ones, obviously) and comparing the two when I only really have experience of the one is foolish at best. Give me however long it takes me to push through this current phase of the blahs, and I'll start another novel without an outline.1 I'm incurable like that.

Glenda Larke explains how she writes a novel:

People ask me how many revisions I do – honestly, I dunno. Some parts that don't work well have too many rewrites to count. Other scenes hardly change at all from the moment I wrote them. One thing I can tell you – for me, writing is not easy. Nor quick. And everybody is different.

I like this post, because it's very similar to my process — and there's nothing I like more, particularly when I'm not happy with the way I'm working, than to hear that my process is not singular. Although I don't, as a rule, go back and read what I've written — because if I do that, I invariably get caught up in revising.

Diana Peterfreund talks about the four-act structure:

I am a fan of the four act structure. I think envisioning your story like that is one of the easiest ways to avoid the “sagging middle.” Even if you do it naturally, going back and making sure that this is what you have done can often help you avoid later complications from bad planning. (I’m a big planner, by the way. BIG.)

And another link from Diana, which I discovered when I stumbled across her post on the four-act structure: plot boards.

That last link is actually to a category page, rather than a single post, but there's a wealth of material in there. The idea of the plot board appeals to me: it's outlining, but it's outlining AFTER the alpha draft, which is about the only time I can do any detailed outlining. Plus, all those post-it notes and bright colours speak right to my stationery-loving, obsessive-compulsive soul. This is one of the reasons I wanted Scrivener, back when I didn't have a Mac, because the corkboard feature lends itself beautifully to this. The faerie novel isn't up to a full plot board yet, obviously, but I'm trying to be virtuous and fill out those little plot cards as I go. It's going to make starting those revisions so much easier!

And, if you have any links on outlining you think might help me in my efforts to procrastinate from the darn faerie novel 😉 share away!

  1. Although I do have a nebulous idea of what the story will involve in my head before I start, and I usually develop a nebulous approximation of an outline during the writing of the alpha draft. []