Where has this year gone / Outlines and course corrections

I have been even more negligent than usual this year with the blog. My last actually posted post was in January! (I have 4 or 5 drafts, one I have started every couple of months, with great good intentions of posting about what I was writing or reading or watching, that are just sitting there, looking at me skeptically.)

I began to write, a couple of months ago, about my outlining process and think it’s still useful, for myself if no one else, so I include it now.

In writing circles, nothing gets a discussion going like positing a tendency towards outlining or not (planning or pantsing, as it were). I fall somewhere in between.

Short stories — not much in the way of planning. Typically, I start with an idea or an event or a character and go from there. If it’s a longer story (say, over 3500 words), I will probably go back and think about the structure and make changes accordingly — perhaps changing the opening or closing scene, or re-arranging the story’s order.

But for novels or novellas, I outline. Vigourously. I’ve been doing Nanowrimo since 2008, along with a number of Camp Nanowrimos along the way. And if I have learned one thing in writing a lot of first drafts, it is that no matter how thoroughly I outline, I don’t get the plot right on the first go.

I am sure that there are writers who do (and that’s great for you, I don’t really want to hear about it). For me, the plot evolves as I write and re-write. My current WIP is a science fiction novel. The initial idea came to me last September and I did an outline of the main plot in late October and wrote 50 033 words of it. I had some sub-plot ideas swirling around, but they fell by the wayside as November progressed.

I spent December to March thinking through the plot and developing sub-plot ideas. April’s Camp Nanowrimo was the beginning of editing. I decided to count by hours (which didn’t really work with my approach to writing/editing). I got a good start on the editing, but just a start.

In May, I wrote a number of backstory pieces for the central characters in the novel. This was really helpful (and I probably should have done it earlier).

For July’s Camp Nanowrimo, I went through draft 1 and edited the scenes that already existed (on paper), while adding the ones that were only a line or two of description (on the computer).

It went well and then I spent August putting my edits on paper into the computer and working on further character and plot refinement in September.

But my ideas around the plot have evolved and not in a bad way.

This past weekend was Can-Con (I will write more about the later, really!) and I have so many more ideas and thoughts now!

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