Posts Tagged With: plot

The First Draft Edit … She is Complete, Captain!

As you may remember from a previous post, I was hard at work during the month of April writing the sequel to Imminent Danger, which is currently titled Chasing Nonconformity. Once the first draft was complete, I set it aside for a few months and … HA. As if. Nah, I set it aside for about a week, couldn’t wait any longer, and had an editing spree over the last few days in which I edited the whole darn thing. And now it’s edited! Huzzah!

Well, edited in the sense that I went through it and fixed all the problems I could find — which, in no particular order, were:

  • Exchanging en dashes (the short dashes) for em dashes (the long dashes)
  • Making sure my protagonist, Eris, didn’t come off as whiny and annoying (good news: if she did before, she no longer does! I hope …)
  • Making sure Grashk, the six-armed lizard man, didn’t come off as too angry and violent (bad news: he’s still pretty violent, but now it’s in a “playful” way, if that makes any sense)
  • Making sure Miguri, the tiny old wise alien, doesn’t speak with contractions
  • Making sure the plot actually makes sense

The last point is probably the most important one, and I think I did a fair job at it. Only time will tell, however. I have officially sent off this draft to my ALPHA SQUADRON (trademark pending), which is a fancy and entirely made-up-on-the-spot way of saying “my beta readers”. They are, in no particular order (with names changed/omitted to preserve their identities):

  • My mother — editor extraordinaire, famous for not wanting to read Imminent Danger because “I was afraid it would be bad”. Thanks, Mom. Approximate read/review time: 1-3 months.
  • My brother — master of logic and tactics. He’s excellent at tearing apart my admittedly sketchy logic and returning comments to me along the lines of “Why did they do X when Y is so much easier?” To which I reply “Because plot, dammit.” Approximate read/review time: 3 days.
  • My best friend — awesome, super supportive, and has no problem informing me when my protagonist gets so whiny about her hair that she (my BFF) felt like tearing out her own hair. Approximate read/review time: 1 month.
  • My writing compatriot — friend of many years, architect of many DnD campaigns, and excellent reader/editor/reviewer/wiki-creator/fanfiction writer. Approximate read/review time: 3 weeks.

Once these four kind souls are finished tearing apart my manuscript, it will return to me so I can fix/ignore the issues they raise. After that … I’m torn. Traditionally it would go to another round of beta readers, but I’m thinking it might be a good call to do the Mother/Daughter patented “Cutting the Manuscript Down to Size” (CtMDtS — or, “Count Doctor teaspoon”) big screen editing session first. To see a recording of one of our CtMDts sessions for Imminent Danger, click here.

So … thoughts? Beta readers or CtMDts session first?


Unrelated media of the day:

I can’t stop listening to this song. I don’t even know why. It’s not that good. It’s just so … odd.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Do outlines stifle creativity?

I’m feeling introspective today. Bear with me.

I feel that there are two types of book memories. There are the big memories, like a major plot point, where you look back and think, “Aw man, I never saw that coming, that was so cool!” And there are the little memories, like a line of dialogue you thought was so hysterical you fell off your bouncy ball laughing. Both are important, and both are necessary to create a great story.

I’ll tell you why I’ve been thinking about this. I’m always reading about writers who swear by their outlines. And they have a good point — how can you make sure you include everything you want to include in the story if you don’t have it written down? Unless your memory is unbelievably fantastic, in which case never mind. But I’ve tried making elaborate outlines, and here’s what happens: it becomes a plodding, paint by numbers exercise in soul-sucking futility, and while I hit all the big memories (the plot points), the little memories are much, much harder to come by.

Maybe it’s just me. I’m horribly disorganized anyway, so maybe outlines and I just don’t mix by default. But when I have an outline that I’m trying to turn into a story, I follow it step by step, doing exactly what it says, and I feel like I lose some of the spark that comes from just attacking a project with a handful of characters in your head, and a vague idea of where they’re going to end up.

So when I go back and look over what I’ve written, I’ve hit all the relevant plot points — oh boy, have I hit them. But that’s all the characters do. They’re so focused on getting from one pivotal scene to the next that they never stop to have fun, or say an amusing quip, or do something ridiculous, like have an impromptu game of laser tag and fall into a vat of space jelly.

I feel like outlines stifle me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. At the same time, I’m sure there are perfectly brilliant authors out there who use outlines all the time, and produce stunning pieces of literature. It probably just boils down to personal taste.

My personal strategy is to jot down very brief notes on what will happen in the story, and then make up the details as I go. For example, in Chasing Nonconformity (the sequel to Imminent Danger), I know that the gang will head to the planet Chingu to retrieve something very valuable that they’ve misplaced. I have several plot points down for what they’ll do when they’re on the planet, but other than that, they can really get up to whatever the heck they want. At the moment, Eris has decided to go shoe shopping. And why not? I can always cut it out later if it doesn’t work with the flow of the story.

That’s the beauty of writing a book — you’re the author! You can write whatever you want, and you have no one to answer to except yourself! Well, and your fans. And your friends and family. And the general public. And reviewers. And the …

Maybe I should start that outline after all.


Unrelated media of the day:

I’ll be honest, I haven’t kept track of what I’ve posted under the Unrelated Media section, so I have no idea if I’ve shared this already. Oh well. Don’t watch it if you’ve already seen it! Or do watch it. Whatever floats your tiger-infested lifeboat.

In today’s unrelated media, Buzz Aldrin raps about how awesome it was to be an astronaut.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 99 Comments

Blog at