Wednesday, April 14, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Well, it's been a while, but I actually have a new WIP! Woohoo! I am, of course, still working on polishing up my NF manuscript for publication (I still need to add a couple new chapters, but the book should *fingers crossed* be completed by the end of the month).

So! I have decided to *gulp* outline my new YA. I don't know what's possessed me (maybe the desire to cut my editing time down to six months LOL) but this time around, I am going all out on the whole outline process.

I've set up a cork board with cards on each of my main characters, their characteristics, motivations, etc. The other side of the cork board has a card for each of my chapters. I have my story arc written (the main conflict, two main turning points, the climax and the resolution) AND I have a basic synopsis written.

I have an idea of how long I'd like the book to be so I will try and break down the events in the book by chapter and get those on the cards.

Now - do I think this will work? Not a clue. It's never worked before, though I've never tried to prepare a book to this extent. Then again, I've never had a clear idea before of exactly how the story will be, from beginning to end. Normally, I have a scene or two in my head and I just sit and write, building on those scenes. And then I generally end up cutting half the book and doing major rewrites and spending months filling plot holes and fixing other glaring problems. I am trying to solve a few of those problems before they start.

This time, I know where I want it to start, what I want to happen in the middle, and how I want it to end up.

This may be because I've been thinking about this story since December. I've never given that kind of thought time to a book before. I may have ideas and jot down notes and think of it now and again, but I really have been seriously stewing on this story for months now.

So, hopefully all this careful preparation won't be for naught once I start the story and the characters take over. I will admit that I am enjoying having a specific checklist of points to hit in the book. That must be the OC list maker in my personality, sighing with giddy delight at my mad organizational skills :D

Well, we'll see how this goes.

On a weird and slightly annoying note - I started writing chapter 1 and it came out in present tense. I don't like present tense as a general rule. Not horribly fond of reading it (though I've had my exceptions, and I have read more of it lately, so perhaps that is feeding into the strange and new direction my writing is taking). I've never written in present tense, so this could be interesting :)

How about you? Do you outline? If so, do you do a basic sketch or really dive in?

And have you ever found yourself changing from your preferred tense into something you've never before attempted...or wanted to attempt?

17 comments:

Christine Fonseca said...

I nearly fell out of my chair Michelle...you SERIOUSLY outlined! You already know I do too:D

Stephanie L. McGee said...

When I outline it's a bulleted list by chapter. What happens in each chapter is laid out, the big events, and then it goes from there. Sometimes the big event is just "attempt at her life, someone else gets killed instead" and I'm left to figure out the setting and timing of it all on my own when I get to the chapter.

As for switching tenses, I'm usually a third omniscient kind of girl (or I go semi-deep and have multiple POV characters that I rotate between at chapter breaks). But I've got one short story that I tinker with from time to time that's in first.

Stephanie L. McGee said...

I should also say that it's so cool that you've got a new project idea. I love the feel of a shiny new idea rattling around in my head. I hope the outlining helps it go faster for you in both first draft and revision stages.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I do what you've just done: prepare, prepare, prepare. I wouldn't do it any other way.

Don't worry, you'll shine!

WindyA said...

Hooray for new projects!

And yeah, outlining, I'm not so good at that. Or changing tense. The tense thing, I've found that it is just however the story spills out of my head.

JEM said...

Oh man, I'm totally on the same page as you. I've been writing blog entries about my new outlining process (as a former seat of the pantser this was a difficult but necessary transition), and I've done some of the same techniques as you. Let me know how it goes, I'd be interested in how the process works for someone else.

Cynthia Reese said...

Wow. The extent of my outline is a synopsis and a chapter by chapter list of what happens when -- usually no more than a sentence or two.

Hope this helps you write like a fiend!

L. E. Neighbour said...

oy sounds fun ^_^ I try to outline but my outline always changes so much I dunno if it's worth it.
and I guess I don't have much trouble with tense. Or maybe I just don't pay that much attention to it ^_^

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, look at you! Congrats on all the outlining and thinking and stuff. You'll have to let us know if it made the actual writing of the draft faster or easier. I'm not an outliner, so I'd be interested to know.

Caledonia Lass said...

Woo good for you! It is strange and interesting to sit and think on a new idea for months. Half the time I just get an idea and run with it.

I've never really outlined before. Just another area that I find difficult. I do, however, use index cards to feel my way through the story and what should come next. I have Post-It notes all over my map for a current WIP.

Good luck to you as you start out on this new way of writing. I hope it works well for you.

Amy Tate said...

Yes! I'm not as far along in my journey as you, but during my revisions I've taken each character and rewritten portions of the novel from their POV. Some material I've kept because it really got me inside their heads. A big congratulations to you for starting number two! Let me know if you find it easier the second time around.

nomadshan said...

I outline using a spreadsheet (pic). I use a tab to list scenes, one to map my turning points and act endings, etc. Sometimes (like w/ my WIP), I use post-its on a bulletin board to rearrange scenes. I definitely prefer to structure my project ahead of time, rather than pantsing it.

Re: tense: if it's OK for the reader to know that the narrator survived the story, I'll use past tense. I like present tense for mystery, coming-of-age, and atmospheric stories.

nomadshan said...

Oops, forgot the photo link. Spreadsheet, handy for plotting; doubly handy for revisions.

Bethany Wiggins said...

Yay for the new WIP!!! That is so awesome. As for me, I don't outline. I have a general idea of where the story will go, but it takes twists and turns that I never could have plotted!

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm an obsessive outliner. I love to know the details. I love to have a road map. I love to know impossibly tiny things about my characters that will most likely never make it into the book. I guess I need to relax a bit but it works for me!

Congrats on the WIP! Best of luck!

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Good luck, Michelle! I'm with Elana: please keep us posted on how the detailing outlining works for you! I'm still a pantzer, but I've decided that I'll probably use note cards when revising to help me spot plot problems. Let us know how it goes!

Palindrome said...

I've just started outlining and scene planning with this current WIP. I think it's going well. I've finished outlining all of my scenes, main character motivations, and all of the settings. All that's left now is to write the first draft.

It is hard to do because I am a notorious pantser and always stall at about 10,000. I'm trying to become more disciplined hence the new outlining stuff. It's daunting but I think it will help in the long run.

Good luck!