Last year I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time and being a competitive person really wanted to ‘win’. I was quite proud when I met the goal of 50,000 words early in the month. Immediately after my pace slackened and in the final ten days of NaNo I barely managed 5,000 more words – well under my previous achievement.
Originally I thought my sudden lack of progress was a result of having achieved my goal – I sprinted to the finish line, crossed it then sat down to puff and pant instead of jogging on. However, going back to the manuscript now I can see another issue which was probably just as large a contributing factor: my plot outline.
In late October, prepping for NaNo, I moved most of my outline into little plot cards in Scrivener. I didn’t do them all for several reasons, including: I never thought I’d get that far and I like to be a little more flexible with the end half of the novel, because as many writers know things just happen sometimes in the story, while riding on that euphoric, muse-induced typing frenzy ideas you weren’t even aware you were thinking pop out and they cause your story to change course a little. A tight outline restricts this creativity but a softer, looser one encourages you to expand on those new ideas.
So now I’m back in Scrivener, taking my loose little plot outline from a notepad document and trying to put it into little cards so I can finish my NaNo novel before I take part in Camp NaNoWriMo. So far it’s working well, an additional 6,000 words over the last two weeks, slow, but better than nothing. Now lets see if I can’t get myself typing like this guy:
What’s a blogger to do when her internet stops working? Why actually get some work done on her novel of course!
I took on an ambitious task recently, turning my epic fantasy trilogy into a quartet. I’d been considering it for a while. I’d noticed a disparity between the size of Storybook Perfect when compared to its two follow up novels. Storybook Perfect runs at 175,000 words, but when I look at the scenes I’ve planned for its untitled sequels neither seems like they will go much over 120,000. Usually the series starts with smaller books and the last few are the large ones. I’ve been thinking of ways to combat this problem. I don’t really want to ‘pad’ the later volumes, padding usually reads exactly like that – as filler. If you doubt me, anime fans, think of Naruto’s filler episodes. They lacked the lustre and power of the episodes that were drawn from the original manga. They weren’t terrible (though some may dispute that statement) but they weren’t up to the standard of what came before or what followed. I am NOT doing that to my books. I want my books to be shiny and strong.
So my next option was cut from Storybook Perfect. I have revised that book more times than I can count and while I could probably shave a few thousand words of somehow (god knows how, but there would be a way) it would never be the tens of thousands I’d need.
So a thought came into my head. Turn Storybook Perfect into two books. There were ideas I had to relinquish for the sake of word count that I could rewrite and of course I’d have to add a new conflict in to wrap up the new book 1, but it could be doable.
I agonised over the decision for a few months, no one wants to go back and tear through something they spent ten years already working on, but I didn’t feel there was any other way.
Scrivener is a godsend. I transferred my existing Word document into Scrivener, split it into scenes so I could flick through to add and remove at will (soooooooooo much easier than scrolling through a 294 page Word document). Now I can also move scenes that will be in book two easily as well.
The only down side is shortly after that I got a fever and a bad flu >.< but I’m back online and (almost) feeling fine so we’ll be talking again soon.
Kirstie Olley is an award-winning speculative fiction author and the full-time wrangler of her children Xander and Harlequin.
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