Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Something Screwy

What the hell is happening in this outline?

For draft 1, I spend the majority of my efforts meticulously composing the outline. The outline is the skeleton of the novel, the structure on which the organs of literary devices, the muscles of plot, the flesh of characters and the soul of its intentions cling.

What happened is this: When I began seriously writing this novel (roughly 5 months ago) I drafted an outline. Now, as I continue writing the first draft, I'm fine-tuning the outline to make sure all of these little details add up. In LPT, many of the characters are traveling different places and particular things must be perfectly aligned in order to drive the characters into action, through complications and of course, set up the climax.

Now all along I've got to discover who my characters are, determine what, specifically, they want, what they're willing to do to get it and what complications will stand in their way.

Of course I have some general-to-specific knowledge of how this is supposed to go. I do not begin writing a novel until I have watched the entire story from start to finish like a movie in my head. I know the first sentence, the last sentence. Everything else in the middle may tentatively shift until all the parts are perfectly in their place.

Nearly two weeks ago, I was zipping right through the index, checking off points, nearing the end. Then I discovered problems in my outline. Small problems, little things. Details. The order of events I was adhering to was off, but just by barely. Things weren't making sense. Fruitlessly I tried to reconstruct the story so that it was correct. I thought I had until I unearthed this list--this outline I wrote long ago when this novel first cracked open inside of me. Apparently, three years ago, I was a genius. There it was, this little list, a vague but significant index, directions that would help the final outline come to fruition.

So what's the problem? Perhaps you're wondering, Why blog about this?

I had to rewrite the outline, and consequently rewrite a fraction of the novel. What I ended up rewriting amounted to fifty fucking pages. Still, there's something screwy with this.

What's askew?

I've spent a few good hours today, scribbling away in my notebook, trying to justify my corrections and inspect, from every angel, each new idea. There exists a working outline. But I wonder--is it right?

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