Writing Updates

hulk thinkI’m still learning, and that’s good. It means I’m not dead.

Yes, my new outlining method has really helped speed my writing process along, but I’ve still ended up with sections I didn’t need after having fleshed them out from the outline phase. I have to update my list of writing mistakes.

I’ll be adding several things.

Don’t make things too complicated. A sprawling cast may work great for some but I need to keep my sprawl to a minimum. I prefer writing a fast pace that picks up steam and continues to build. I think my work is at its best when I play to strengths. So — less sprawl.

hulk computerStop taking on too many projects. I keep thinking that because I’ve gotten wiser about this writing stuff that I can turn into a prose machine and crank stories out that are in top form by second draft. I’m currently in the midst of four projects with the potential for a short fifth looming. That’s three too many. I need downtime or all the writing suffers. Right now I’m trying to invigorate various projects by shifting between them, which is good and bad.

I’m going to underline two earlier entries from my list of writing mistakes so I’m ultra sure I pay attention to them. As always, I need to make sure I know what every character wants before I write the scene. Also, I need to be in my character’s head and see through his/her eyes. I ran into problems with my Paizo novels, written with such glee last summer, because of these two issues, particularly the second. Yes, I was able to draft them quickly because I stayed to an outline that mostly worked. Yet changes had to be made. While they weren’t plot level edits (thanks to the outline, the structure was quite solid) once I had the dialogue in place I didn’t do a very good job of getting into many of the characters’ heads until another month or two of passes.

hulk driveIt turns out that’s one of the bugs of my outlining method. If I’m used to knowing what the characters’ motivations are and am used to seeing the text as bare description with dialogue (as with a play), I can fool myself into thinking that everyone else who sees the prose will be on the “same page.” And that’s not necessarily true. I’m writing adventure stories, so the intent has to be clear. I have to make sure that not only can I see where I’m going when I’m driving down the plot lines, but that the readers will be intrigued as well.

The other main bug to the outline method I’m using is that I can get attached to ideas and characters that are interesting in concept but don’t add to the overall pacing. For what I want, Pacing is an essential ingredient, and I shouldn’t get distracted by pretty lights. Instead of wording the mistake as Don’t make things too complicated as I did above, perhaps it should be Keep things streamlined.

Off topic, Chris Hocking and I will be bringing back Hardboiled Mondays as an occasional feature, perhaps once or twice a month. I think every Monday being hardboiled was starting to burn us out and perhaps wear thin for site visitors.

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