Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Like comparing apples to giant mutant apples

Well, I'm all hatted out and ready for a change of topic. How about you?

Today marks the first day of my Very Serious First Draft Writing Period, in which my primary goal is to work up a solid first draft of Or Your Money Back, the novel on the table. Last night I kicked off the VSFDWP by sketching out an outline based on writer Jennifer R. Hubbard's useful post on outlining. Hubbard suggests jotting down a quick ten-chapter outline to get the main events of the book spread out, so I did.

I was nervous starting out this exercise, because I didn't think I could do it. The novels I've written previously are sprawling, cantankerous giants that couldn't easily be condensed into ten main events. Their preliminary outlines spanned multiple pages. So, up to this point, I have always written these unweildy monsters of books, and I wasn't sure I had it in me to condense a novel into such a short space. But after a few minutes of outlining, it became apparent that this novel is going to be very, very different from my previous stuff.

Previous novels average:
  • 22 chapter preliminary outline
  • 11 subplots
  • 230,000 word first draft
(Yeah, I know. I told you they were monsters.)

Or Your Money Back:
  • 10 chapter preliminary outline - it fit easily
  • 2 subplots
  • max 100,000 word first draft (expecting closer to 70k)
Also, while writing the sprawling monster-books, I couldn't see quite where they were going when they started, how the characters would change, or what the books' endings would be like. Writing those books was all about the journey, with no concrete destination in sight. For OYMB, I've already got a pretty good notion of how the major events play out and how the characters change. The last scene is written down in my notebook, and I'm looking forward to that ending.

Really looking forward to it. I've never written a happy ending to a longer story before. And not only is this one happy - tonally, it's taking hints from The Shawshank Redemption's ending, which is my all-time favorite ending of anything. (Even catching the last five minutes of that movie on TV, I bawl like a sissy, but in a good way.)

Anywho, back to work.

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