I’ll Have That Outline Now, Please

Some Christmas cheer for my manuscript.

Some Christmas cheer for my manuscript.

We are officially into December. The coming days will be filled with Christmas decorations, cards, presents, food, and the preparation and placement of those items. I will keep my ambivalence, my love/hate of the season, off these pages for the most part, in service of my overriding goal for the month, which is to keep to my daily writing schedule. That schedule should produce, in another ten days or so, the next draft of my novel, a successor to the previous draft, which I dubbed “the almost readable draft,” back in March of this year.

(Previous post: I Think I’ve Finally Gone and Done It)

I’ll call this one “the barely readable draft.”

This is the draft a reader might like some parts, but be frustrated when other parts don’t make sense. But they would see, at least, that there was some sense to be made.

As I finish up, I’m telling myself I can now do a solid, etched in stone timeline. I can map out spaces and scenes. I can get my biology and future-tech straight. I can give the characters a shampoo, cut, and blow dry. I can even do an honest-to-gosh outline, if I need one. I’m not sure I will.

The next draft will be more than a copy-editing, polishing enterprise. There are still some major connectors needed between some major dots. There are continuity problems. Things will change. Nothing big, but medium, yes. Much will be refined. After that, I’ll have a person or two read it. Once it is out of my hands (for a time), I will begin on the next. This first one is a mystery of sorts, with other elements. The second one is a quest in which a youngish woman goes somewhere that’s not Earth, looking for someone she loves, and learns secrets that could destroy humanity. That’s all I’ll say. That’s almost all I know, other than a few odd plot turns and some set decoration.

I understand now that that’s enough. I can trust myself to bash my way through that hideous first draft, which might turn out to be less a draft than a 200 page synopsis. 150 pages of it will be junk. I will find something of value in the remaining 50, and will go to work on that. This is the process I’ve used successfully dozens of times on short stories. Now I know a novel is not “too long” for this same method to work. I only need to be persistent.

I also need to give my work priority over things I don’t really care about, and there’s a lot of that during the holiday season. Maybe I need to work harder this month. That’s okay, too. I need to be Scrooge. I’ll give myself–grudgingly–all of Christmas Day off, but I’ll expect myself to come in an hour earlier the next day.

Merry Bah Humbug.

Photo: SpeculativeMartha. All rights reserved.


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