Hey, I’m almost feeling better!
I didn’t make any progress at all last week, since I was signed off work with an upper respiratory tract infection and I could barely breathe.
That sick note ended on Wednesday. I got up bright and early, packed my bag for work, and… threw up mucus and my glass of water everywhere. I wasn’t quite ready to start spending time with other human beings again.
So, I arranged to take Wednesday and the rest of the week off as holiday. I wanted to stay at home and take my recovery slowly, but I also wanted to work on my words. As I’ve said in the past, too sick to work means too sick to work, so I wasn’t going to take any more sick leave.
Between medical emergencies, I’ve had a few hours since Wednesday to work on the story — and I’m super happy!
I breached 10,000 words yesterday, and today I hit 11,066!
It’s not the number of words; it’s where they are
The thing I’m most excited about is that the first pass of the outline — from beginning to end — is done.
Scene-by-scene, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen. There’s no detail. no description, no dialogue. This ain’t a first draft. But it does prove out the story. I know the characters’ motivations, I know why the antagonist is being a git, I know where the heroes and villains cross paths, I know how information is revealed, I know what information I need to foreshadow, and I know how the final confrontation will go down.
And yeah, it feels good!
Inflating the outline
The next step — which I’ve just started — is to go back to the beginning and start filling out a bit more detail in each scene.
This should start to identify any problems, maybe knock out some scenes or add some new ones, and smooth the scenes into a consistent story.
And so far, this has been slow going.
For a start – literally — the opening of the story didn’t have any conflict at all. It showed a typical day going well for the protagonist; nothing more or less.
When I wrote that a few weeks ago, it seemed to make sense; I wanted to establish what “normal” is for a young professional time-traveller.
On second reading, it was dull as balls.
I tossed some ideas into a mind map, and realised that — even with a time machine at their disposal — humans will always suck at time management and deadlines.
Now, I still open with a “typical” day, but now it’s a “typical” fast-paced, last-minute, deadline-looming, give-the-customer-what-they-paid-for day.
So, scene-by-scene, I’m checking for goals, motivation and conflict, and writing the structure of the scene in a few hundred words.
After I’ve inflated a scene, I won’t touch it again until I start the first draft. At that point, I don’t want to be pausing to re-think the story or have to remind myself what needs to happen. I’m putting all the planning in now, so I can blast out the first draft later.
That’s the plan, at least!
Self-motivation, and quality story-telling
Several times over the last few weeks, I’ve caught myself getting anxious over whether this story can actually be any good.
This is my first novel. My short stories have never gone down well. Hell, I have an entirely scientific background; I’ve never even taken a creative writing class. Everything I know about storytelling, I learned from reading. So why the hell should I expect to write something people want to read?
The truth is: shit, I’m having a blast just working on this. I don’t have dollar signs in my eyes, or dreams of being a bestseller. I just want to see this book up on Amazon and Kobo so I can say to myself I did it. I published a fucking novel.
Plus — I tell myself — don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a story about time-travelling lesbians solving a mystery. This isn’t supposed to be an award-winner. This isn’t supposed to be in anyone’s top 10. All I want to do is give the reader a few hours of entertainment for $1.99.
Now, give me a few years, and then I’ll be hoping for some of those awards and rankings! But right now, I’m giving myself permission to suck and have fun.
When I start recruiting beta readers in a few months — and I already have one volunteer, thank you! — then we’ll see how much is salvageable. After that, I’ll pay for a professional edit.
And then, this story will be awesome!
- Featured image: https://pixabay.com/en/flag-lgbt-gay-lgbtq-lesbian-1184117/
- Ulysses: https://ulyssesapp.com