As I have mentioned in previous posts, I’m working on the sequel to Raising John. As I have not yet mentioned, I recently made a commitment to my book manager at Booktrope to publish it by the end of 2016. So, I guess I really do need to write it, huh?
Five years ago, if someone had asked me to commit to writing and publishing a full-length novel in less than a year (well, 80% of a full-length novel – I have already written about 20%), I would have run away in terror. Or at least said “no way!” It took me a full 5 years to write, send to beta readers, revise, send to beta readers again, revise again, edit, proofread and publish Raising John. Yes, I took breaks while working my day job, but even so, I spent an incredible amount of time revising the manuscript into something that people wanted to read.
I blame pantsing. When I wrote the first draft of Raising John, I was working to the self-imposed deadline of NaNoWriMo. I had a few NaNos under my belt, but up to that point, the event had just been a tool to get me to actually write, instead of just telling everyone I wanted to be a writer (pro tip: there’s a big difference). I wrote without concern for the finished product. I wrote just to be writing something.
So, the first go at Raising John was a stream of consciousness mess. There was no discernable plot arc. There was a lot of feeling, but the feeling was not conveyed effectively. There was a lot of telling and not a lot of showing (not that telling is always bad).
So, I had to wrestle the long confessional into a plot. Then it turned out the plot wasn’t very compelling. So I had to tear it all apart and rebuild it. Then my editor saw plot holes that I had missed, so I had to write more scenes. And I was like, “really? I have to write more? This is an injustice!” But, I wrote the scenes and eventually I had a book that said what I wanted to say, and that people liked.
I’m practical, so as I was going through this process I realized there had to be a better way and that if I am to have any hope of making money at this writing thing I will need to be more efficient.
So now I’m a plotter. When I started working on the sequel to Raising John (working title: Finding Home), I first wrote an outline. Then I bought Scrivener, which is nifty book-writing software. Unfortunately it doesn’t actually do the writing for you, but it helps a lot with organization and revisions.
As I have worked on the first chapters of Finding Home I have drifted somewhat from my outline, mostly because I decided to change the personality of one of the characters significantly. And, that’s OK! The outline isn’t rigid, it’s there to provide support and structure, not an iron fist of control. It provides structure and it ensures at the beginning that there’s a story arc – so instead of writing a bunch of words that I later have to stuff into a story arc, I write the words to the arc to begin with.
As always, thank you for reading.