I have spent some time amongst alcoholics and addicts and find that they are a lot as I imagine writers to be. They spend a lot of time in isolation. They have to work every day to stay on the path. And they make shit up.
People in recovery seem to fall into two groups: those who want to write their medallion speeches right away and those who don’t. The motives of people who don’t are easy to understand. First things first. One day at a time. The other group? They want to have a sense of how they want to feel when they get there.
How they want to feel.
I love the idea of pantsing a novel, but I just don’t have those chops. I started planning my novel about a month ago. When I sat down to write my outline, I had my concept, characters, a setting and a bunch of stuff that I wanted to happen. I had read up on the Snowflake Method and checked out Holly Lisle’s Plot Outline Mini-Course. I was ready (even raring!) to go.
It took 45 minutes for me to get started, but once I did, things clicked. It took another 3 hours to finish my first outline, complete with cool events and a decent timeline. I was ready to write.
Except that I didn’t feel it.
I could see how everything fit together and didn’t leave anything out, but I didn’t feel that this was something that I wanted to read, let alone write.
I make a habit of checking out Janet Reid’s educational and entertaining Query Shark. She makes it pretty damned clear that the one true job of the query is to make her want to read the manuscript. I wanted to come up with something to make me want to write a manuscript – maybe a query was in order.
My first attempt was 420 words and didn’t really deliver. The words were shitty and I had a list, but no motion. I revised every morning and evening for six days. Each day the words got less shitty and things became clearer. I ripped out stuff that didn’t need to be on the page and I chopped the time frame from 2 weeks to 2 days. To pick up the pace even further, I threw in a ticking clock.
Compressing the timeline and adding that dollop of desperation produced great results. I got rid of a bunch of boring shit, I get to make my protagonist squirm and I get to rush him into making some deliciously poor choices.
It took a week, but now I have 200 words that tell me how this book should feel.