So, LUCIDITY has run its course. Only one member of my main cast died this time. Kind of low on the body count for one of my stories. I'd like to talk about a few things I learned from writing this, how I plan to use that knowledge and hear anyone and everyone's opinion on the story itself.
Let's start with things I learned:
1. Outlines are very tentative creatures and rarely last a whole story. That being said, they help form the story and most of the ideas in the outline really help. For my next story, the third standalone in my urban fantasy world (no title for the world yet) I've decided to follow up this style with one character/scene per chapter. While I'm still using the one paragraph outline style for the final draft of the outline, I've added several more pieces to the process.
-Step 1: Create the magic system and discover the starting point. (This was difficult considering I had to tie it into the other two novels as far as timeline goes.)
-Step 2: Brainstorm some conflicts, characters and ideas.
-Step 3: Reverse event outline. I got this idea from Brandon Sanderson from one of the episodes of Writing Excuses. The basics of it are simple. From your starting point and your brainstormed events, think of the coolest ending you can then work your way backwards from that event back to the starting point, event by event.
-Step 4: Pulling out all the key events from the reverse outline. From LUCIDITY, I learned that having the events jumbled together really doesn't help. Sometimes they will bend or fall apart depending on what the character wants to do. Thus, I went through my reverse event outline and made a list in order from start to finish of things that happened.
-Step 5: One-page synopsis. This is a great tool, especially early on when you don't have all the side events in your head, mucking up your ideas. With all the events in mind, this gives you the chance to see the story as a whole and correct some of the ideas in it.
-Step 6: Scene sequel outline. I'm still not 100% on using this format in the writing itself since I like to let my characters do what they will, but for outlining, it seems to be a great format. I had each chapter go from scene to sequel while going through each of the events on my list. The synopsis helped me put some scenes in perspective while doing this. For each chapter, I would write either scene (goal>conflict>disaster) and fill out those three boxes or sequel (reaction>dilemma>decision) and fill out those three boxes. When switching POVs, I stuck to the format, so some characters had nothing but scene, scene scene before getting a sequel, but the format of chapters was still scene>sequel>scene>sequel>etc.
-Step 7: The one paragraph outline. Now that I had a solid idea for what each chapter entailed, I created chapter files with the chapter numbers, names and POV character typed into the first line. Then I hit enter a few times and typed three points based on the scene sequel outline. Starting point for that character. (Just one sentence) The meat of the chapter. (The things that happen in the chapter. This is the paragraph.) And the ending point for that character. (Just one sentence.) I did this for all 52 chapters and have all of the individual files ready for NaNo this year. Should be very efficient, I hope.
I'm sure my outline will stray based on what my characters want, but this gave me a good idea of what the characters will do before hand.
2: Know the characters. This is something that has really troubled my writing for a while. I've never done character interviews and only used sample scenes to really feel out the characters. This mostly leads to the character's not getting much of a face till about 5 or 10 chapters into the story. So, being able to step back from LUCIDITY, I can see this better.
-For this year's NaNo, I've decided to 'get to know my characters better.' I used the 'Who am I?' character sheets to write out my three POVs. Then I 'interviewed each character' (I'll post the interview questions later.) before writing a 'sample shopping scene' (I'll also do a post on this later) where each of the characters went into the same grocery store under the exact same setup to see what they did and how they reacted. This gives me a good feel for the characters and a good reference to look back on when I begin writing in November.
3: Focus and enjoy. This is the last point I'm going to discuss today, but it's probably the most important. Due to some issues in my life, writing — while still being fun — has become somewhat of a chore, and this makes me drag my feet to get into the mood. The writing itself is fun. Even the editing to a degree can be fun. But the groundwork for writing adds that extra weight that makes it unbearable. Being able to tune out the groundwork and some issues in my life really helped me focus on the writing itself. And while focusing, I was able to enjoy the piece, and the words flowed onto the page much easier.
-This does not mean to ignore the groundwork which you have to do. Or isolate yourself from your life which will bring a whole slew of mental issues. All the time at least. For me, this meant 'isolation days' and 'isolation hours' where everything else would disappear, and I could only see the work in front of me. These can be random whenever you get the time, but for me, it was best to set up schedule so friends, (family not really an issue since I live alone in a foreign country) and loved ones can have an idea of when you will be busy. Sometimes skipping these times/days are necessary for sanity/the sanity of your loved ones. For me: Monday to Friday, 5pm to 6:30 pm/Saturday, 10am to 12pm/Every other Sunday. Those were my isolation times where only the writing was seen or done. Sometimes, I'd have write-ins with other writers rather than isolation, despite it being less productive for me. It does help flesh out ideas though.
Anyway, I hope these things help you with your writing and give you an idea of how to move forward.
As far as reader comments, I'd like to hear your opinions on the characters? Which character from LUCIDITY did you like the most? The least? Why?
-What was your favorite scene?
-Did anything surprise you or jump out of the blue?
-How was the foreshadowing?
-Any general comments on the story as a whole?
Currently, the plan is to just leave LUCIDITY as it is, a first-draft blog story. Though, if there is enough interest, I may put it through two more drafts and put it up on Kindle for 99cents.
I hope you enjoyed this drunken tale!
Until the next blog story (I was thinking about a 20k ish mystery in the guise of an epic fantasy before Nano if I get the second draft of BURNING done in time), work hard and enjoy yourself.
Back to the beginning: LUCIDITY brainstorming plus outline