Time to get down to business

I’ve been floundering a little of late – chipping away at some short stories, no real direction or big plans. Which has been fine. We’re still getting back into the routine of life during the school term, and that’s okay. But I realize that what I really need to do is get back to work on Mocha Nihilism. I intend to revise the crap out of in March. I’ll be deleting big chunks, rearranging things, upping the ante. Oh, it’s going to be AWESOME.

But first, I need to write some detailed scene outlines. Make sure I have everything lined up and in place before I get to the work of rewriting. Last year, before I started work on the second draft, I thought I’d done this. What I did was strengthen the existing plot though – I didn’t have the energy, or the inkling, to really push the characters and the situation, to make it a gripping read. Now I know what needs to be done, and I don’t want to make the same mistake again. Going off half-cocked is only going to create more work, and I want this to be the final draft!

I’m both excited, and daunted by the process. I’ve never been a planner, never had a desire to be this organized. Every time I’ve tried in the past I’ve always done a half-assed job. I know this is what I need to do though, to make sure that this is the last rewrite. It will get me one step closer to having something ready to publish, and that’s a good thing.

So wish me luck!

How do you outline? Any tips or tricks for this part of the process to help a panster change her ways?


7 thoughts on “Time to get down to business”

  1. Well, I’m a pantser, but when I was at that point with “Ravenmarked,” what really helped me was to lay it out scene by scene in Excel. I took out all of my chapter breaks and just went through each scene, noting the time point in the story, a summary of what happened in the scene, whether it was action, ramping up to action, or just exposition, and then any notes about changes that I needed to make. I color-coded the rows by red for slow (exposition, description, etc.), yellow for ramping up tension or action, and green for mostly action. Then I printed it out, laid it out on the floor, and took a long look.

    I could easily see where I needed to break up slow places with action and slow down fast places. Then when I went through in more detail, I noticed where I had things out of order on the timeline or where I could group scenes more effectively. It was really helpful, and it actually only took a couple of hours (and that book was about 170,000 words at the time–yikes! I cut a bunch! :)). I’m not an Excel kind of gal, but this method was recommended by Hallie Ephron in a workshop she taught, so I gave it a shot. It worked really well.

    If you want, I could send you a snippet of that spreadsheet so you could get a look at it… Let me know…


    1. That would be awesome, Amy. Thank you! I am planning on using excel, and mine is substantially shorter (just under 20K! lol) so I am planning on using this as a kind of practice run for when I get to a longer piece in the near future.

  2. Wow! Amy, you really had your work cut out for you. I’ll have to try that when I’m done with this new WIP.

    Cassie, As for the actual writing process I don’t use an outline. I tried that and only find myself getting too mixed up and constrained by it. Instead, I use a Beat Sheet created by screenplay writer Blake Snyder. I found it in his book “Save the Cat” at my local library. I really like the set up, because it gives me more focus and room to maneuver.

    1. I haven’t read that one, will have to check it out! Thanks, Heather πŸ™‚

      I have never written a first draft with an outline, just vague ideas of where I’m going and what might crop up along the way – I do find that more fun. The more I write though, the more I see that outlining is actually a tool to help. It’s not set in stone, the things I’ve put down don’t HAVE to happen. If something crops up that is in line with what the characters would do in response to the plot, then you should follow that, in my opinion anyways.

  3. I’ve heard only good things about Save the Cat, but haven’t tried it yet.
    Outlining is something I truly hate to do, because I love to follow the surprises, what Holly calls “muse bombs” to find what’s original in the story. Sigh. But figuring out what you wrote is the first step of a powerful revision. At that point, you do have to get out the index cards, or the spread sheet, and take a good look at the prizes your muse gave you. For me, it meant rewriting about 80% of the book, but this is my first. Maybe it gets better?

    1. I’m with you, Texanne, on following the story and seeing where it goes! As you say though, It DOES get better. I think this version will need about 40% new stuff, and the rest is already there and will just need tweaking. Exciting!

  4. When you’ve settle on your process, Tap on the issues as they come up – procrastination, feeling stuck, feeling heavy / lethargic, feeling like it’s “all too big” / never get it done / too much work etc. It’ll get you clearer on where your next growth is in this part of the process of writing, and of course, you’ll be able to clear it all away as well LOL, never to return in that particular form again πŸ™‚
    Hmm – should I start a tapping group just for writers?

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