Tuesday, June 14, 2011

WIP Update

I was supposed to post a writing tip today, but when I checked in my file, I found that I had no pre-written posts ready. Since today is a busy day (I have to watch Hamlet, read all of The Tempest, start studying for my final exam on Monday, go job searching, tune my 34 string harp, help my mom garden, and try to find some time to read and write) I don't have the time to spend the hour thinking up a good topic, writing about it and then cutting it down to something resembling a reasonable length. So, to make a long short story long, there will be no writing tip post this week.

Instead, I'm going to update you on my WIP, The Web. I started it a little bit over a month ago, at the beginning of May. Now, I'm normally a die-hard plotter, and I have complex character sketches and chapter outlines and random ramblings about the story. This time, I started off with only a very general idea of where I was going. For the first 20k everything was great; I loved the story, I had no trouble writing it, and everything came to life perfectly.

After that point I wasn't sure exactly what was going on. I kept slogging on, coming up with new ideas and trying to fit them together with the old ideas and characters and trying to find my way to the planned ending that was seeming more elusive as time went on. At last, when I reached the milestone of 40k, I looked at what I was writing and realized that it was boring.

Boring isn't good for any story, especially not when it's supposed to be an action-packed Sci-fi/dystopia. So, despite the fact that I had been slogging ahead, writing an average of 2000 words daily, I just stopped writing the story. But I didn't stop writing. I got out my brainstorming document and wrote about the story. I wrote about why characters would do what they did, about what they were feeling and what they thought about the other characters. I wrote about how The Web works in my story, figuring out its limitations. I wrote about the conflict in my story, trying to force it to the center and create a well-paced book.

Then I went back and edited. Almost every chapter, even the first ten chapters that I absolutely loved, had to be changed somehow. Some were cut entirely. Other events were moved around. Some characters were cut, others had their roles changed and enlarged.

Just the other day I started writing new stuff. I'm now 31k into it again with a bit of an outline stretching in front of me. I know what sort of things are coming and I vaguely know the order, but nothing's set in stone. The outline is flexible, but at least it's there. I've discovered that I can't write without an outline. I need some sort of a guide to keep me going. 'Pantsing' it just doesn't work for me.

So far, this story has been great experience for me. I've learned how to write without a super-flexible outline, but I've also learned that I need an outline to keep me going. Now that I've learned this about my writing style, I'm ready to go full speed ahead. If I don't suffer another setback like this, I may well have a finished manuscript by the end of July. Wish me luck!

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