I must confess, I hardly touched What Dreams for most of March, but then last week I had Spring Break and made excellent progress.
I’m at 3,902 words, and my outline board looks like this (mostly the same):
Cats sold separately.
This month, I…
* Continued to fine-tune my outline process. I still adore my outline board, and I’m using it the way another pantser might use a normal outline – to keep track of the major points I need to hit and the master plan for the story, and to store ideas and scenes in loose order. (I have no idea how many people use the term “pantser” but I’m totally tagging my posts with it now). When it comes time to do the next section, I aggregate some post-its, make a few more detailed ones, and get them in order.
The second step in the outline process is to type the post-its into the Word document in which I’m writing, and start linking them together with more notes. Then I delete the notes as I write the scenes. So, I have kind of a rolling outline ahead of me, it’s super easy to alter, and I can just glance down to see where I’m going instead of trying to re-decipher my outline board or getting distracted by events in the far future. Plus, it’s easy to add notes about each scene as I think of them. Here’s a screencap:
Click to enlarge.
Compare this to my friend and longtime writing partner Rose’s outlining process, and you may see a few conceptual similarities but a lot of practical differences. I think the key is to just do what makes sense to you. Don’t try to force yourself into someone else’s process if your brain doesn’t work like theirs, find something that actually organizes what you really have in your head.
This month I also…
* Came to terms with the fact that I write best first thing in the morning. It’s not that I’m a morning person, just that no one talks to me then and I don’t have anything else on my mind yet. I can’t get up early for exercise to save my life, but I’m instituting a page-a-day regime and I’ll get up early for it when necessary. It’s a good way to create time, and my pages are only 300-400 words each. Generally I can outline in bits and pieces at other times of the day or on weekends to get me through the week, and I can do fact-checking or research during any moments of down time.
* Made a major realization about the character dynamics. It turns out two of the central characters aren’t actually in love, when all this time I thought they were. It changes basically nothing about the story, just fixes an ending I already didn’t like. Super excited about this!
* Re-read The Masterplan by Scott Mills. It’s an awesome sci-fi graphic novel that I’ve loved for years, one of my tone inspirations for this novel, and featured on my Doctor Who reading list. You should read it. (Tone inspirations are really important to me and I have to read books similar to mine or what I’m writing comes out like something someone else has already done… Reading is part of how I contemplate my story.)
Lastly, I’m transitioning to a new format for these updates that’ll hopefully be helpful for people besides just me… Each one should include a writing tip, the word count/outline board update, bulleted points of interest for the month, any SF- or writing-related supplemental reading from that month, and maybe a sneak peek/example excerpt/character sheet/something like that. Anything else you’d like to see from the process of writing a science fiction novel?
So, that’s my progress for March. How are your projects coming?