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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sequel to Isle of Swords

I am in the midst of my next book, a sequel to Isle of Swords...yet untitled. I'm going to create a poll in a week or two with a series of possible titles. But in the meantime, if it seems like I haven't posted every day, you'll understand why. I have until Oct. 20 to get my best draft to my publisher. You may have noticed a new feature in the sidebar. My word count for this novel is 85,000. I'll be doing my best to get close, but not over, that number. I've outlined the whole novel. I know what's going to happen all the way through, except I don't.

Some people are seat-of-the-pants writers. They are the spontaneous lot. They write as the muse hits. Some are meticulous outliners. I'm in that camp, except I'm not. Are you following? Good. See I outline very carefully, sometimes taking a month or more to plot out the story. I have to or I'm doomed to massive rewrites and time consumption you wouldn't believe. BUT, when I start to flesh out the story from the outline, when the characters take on lives apart from my mind...well, the story must follow. So, the outline becomes flexible.

And...that's what's happening right now. This pirate tale has developed some themes and depth that I hadn't imagined initially. I'd hate to be in the shoes of some of my own characters. There are uncharted waters ahead.

What style of writer are you?
A. SOTP--spontaneous, as it comes, outlining is blasphemy.
B. StrictOutliner--flesh out the entire story before the manuscript. Never deviate.
C. FlexibleOutliner--know the whole plot but being open to character-driven twists.
D. Something Completely Different? Do tell.

38 comments:

Pais Charos said...

Um... my answer is A.

I'm definitely a spontaneous writer. I tried the outlining thing out, and it just didn't work for me. I don't like outlines. Never have. I feel to confined by them, honestly. And then, while I'm writing the outline, I tend to be writing more in the outline than I should be, and it's better to just let it all flow. Yes, sometimes it leads to heartbreaking and frustrating writer's block, and massive rewrites, and editing (I don't like to edit...), but I hate the confinement of outlines.

Roheryn said...

Awsomeful!

I must say... I'm spontaneous. Then 'gain, I don't feel like I'm writing. If I really get into my story, its not me, its my charrie, telling me their story, and I'm just the arms and hands to write it down, and I'm there to edit it into the most understandable form... or something like that...

In all honesty, I can't tell you where my stories are going to go in the next chapter, much less in the end... *mutters 'bout tempremental main charries*

Merrie Destefano said...

Plotting puts me into a panic. But I have to do it. I am much more of a "SOTP" writer, with plot points figured out, not an actual outline. But I continually forget where I have put my plot points, because I am so right-brained that I don't file things very well.

Sigh.

My characters are deep and conflicted. My plot is heavy and convoluted. And I don't really know what will happen next. Yet it all seems to work out.

For me, it feels like I am juggling 25 balls at the same time. Ouch. I especially hate the middle of the book. Worst part of all. And of course, exactly where I am right now.

Justin B. said...

I am mostly A spontaneous, even though I'm aiming for a Flexible Outliner, because my story does not seem to at all flow, its very disjointed at this point!

PatShand said...

C, if any of those. I think outlining is beyond vital, for the story to be full circle. However, it still needs a lot of breathing room. To me, the only thing that needs to be 100% strict to the outline is major major events that define the story. But yeah, to keep my themes straight, I need to at least START with a strict outline before I flesh things out.

Brett said...

I'm B. It kills me though....I do deviate at times....I need to learn to be different.

Kel said...

I would have to say 'C.' I like to have a basic outline, and I have found that many times the story takes a completely different direction from what I originally intended. At times it exasperates me, but then the new direction is usually better than the original one.

Sarmjornn said...

Definitely D.

Even though sometimes not having a definite way of writing causes me some trouble it is what I'm most comfortable with.

Galactic Overlord-In-Chief said...

C for the most part.

- Jason

Becky said...

I'm closer to C than any of the others. In James Scott Bell's plotting book he defines my style of writing better than any I've seen. He calls it the "headlights system." He describes it like this: You have an idea as to yur direction, but you can see only as far as the headlights. When you drive to that point you can see a little farther. And so on, until you reach your destination. In other words, you can outline as you roll along.

That's me. My first book I outlined the whole thing, but changed it when I needed to. Even took the trouble to correct the outline so it would reflect the changes. LOL

Now that I know I'm a Headlights writer, I feel free!

Becky

Kare Alethieas said...

C. For my novels, I have them written out in my head, but like you said, the characters take on lives of their own, and I'm forced to follow, writing down their adventures as furiously as I can.

Merrie Destefano said...

I agree with Becky. Once I discovered what kind of writer I was--intuitive--it made all the difference in the world. I always wondered why outlines and detailed plot lines were so difficult for me.

Now I realize that my brain just doesn't work that way. For years I thought there was something wrong with me, because most of the "writing helps" books were aimed at analytical left-brained people. Not me.

"Writing Down the Bones" has stopped me from giving up a hundred times. It forces me to realize that it's okay for my writing technique to be different, and it helps me to jump start my periodic brain freeze.

Merrie Destefano said...

I agree with Becky. Once I discovered what kind of writer I was--intuitive--it made all the difference in the world. I always wondered why outlines and detailed plot lines were so difficult for me.

Now I realize that my brain just doesn't work that way. For years I thought there was something wrong with me, because most of the "writing helps" books were aimed at analytical left-brained people. Not me.

"Writing Down the Bones" has stopped me from giving up a hundred times. It forces me to realize that it's okay for my writing technique to be different, and it helps me to jump start my periodic brain freeze.

Merrie Destefano said...

Sorry for posting twice. I was having issues with the Internet. Aaarrgghh.

Galactic Overlord-In-Chief said...

Did your publisher choose 85,000 or about that amount as a benchmark for you?

- Jason

everlastingscribe said...

Oh, thanks for sharing Becky about the 'headlight' system I'd been feeling down in the dumps because while that best describes how I write I hadn't heard any one else put it that way.

Aravis said...

Very flexible, very bare outliner.
I never write my outline, so it's pretty ethereal.

Todd said...

I'm C. When I first started writing I was an SOTP writer. However, I've learned that I have to outline to some degree. I come up with the major characters and the major plot points. I usually know the ending first and drop back and punt to find the steps that will lead me there. Then I start to write.

WayneThomasBatson said...

So cool to see the myriad of styles out there. But, makes sense, since we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.

I bet that all of us will change styles at least once or twice in our careers. I began as SOTP, but it took me 13 years to write a book that way. YIPE!!

Once you're published, things can change a little too because some houses will require you to submit a detailed synopsis of your work. Of course, I think it's understood that things can and will change. I submit a chapter by chapter outline to TN, and of course, it changes markedly by the time I get them the finished manuscript.

Oh, and Jason, my publisher set the word count ahead of time. I can be less, but not over. I know that seems odd. One would think you just write the book, edit it to its finest and then, the result is the word count. BUT that's not the way all publishers do it. Many like TN get started on production elements, binding size, cover art, page count ahead of time so that they can figure pricing (more pages equals more cost to the publisher and therefore, a possible increase in cover price) ahead of time.

Thomas Nelson has been extremely aggressive with pricing. I mean a beautiful hardcover book for just $16.99??? Most are $21.95 or $24.95.

The lower price means that hardcovers are more accessible to more people--which is a very good thing. In that way, the harcover is actually attainable and not JUST and advertisement for the paperback. lol

Valerie Comer said...

Let's call it a C. I do have an outline before I start--quite an extensive one--but I find my characters glance at it and laugh. They usually stop off in the major locations for sight-seeing, but take the scenic route in between. And often the destination is a little different than I foresaw as well. Somehow it seems to work.

Brett said...

lol, I'm the only B. Therefore, I rock. :)

Amy Browning said...

Well - never having completed a novel, I'll say that I'm none of the above. I start out writing SOTP and then as plot elements develop, I find it almost necessary to at least sketch out a rough sequence. I like to only plot out the bare-bones stuff that will come back and needs to tie in later.

I spend a fair amount of time talking to my digital voice recorder with all the what-ifs and major plot points. So far, on the story I'm working on now, I have most of my ideas on the recorder and only about 3500 words put into my computer.

As a side note - I absolutely cannot write actual content with a pencil and paper. I can sketch out and diagram that way, but when I sit down to write, it must be in front of a screen.

James Somers said...

Flexible Outliner...Definitely!

I often get pulled in a different more interesting direction.

Pais Charos said...

Valerie, that's such a neat and funny way of putting it. My characters laugh if I even -think- of doing an outline.

chrisd said...

Not that it matters, but I'm a flexible. And an outliner. It really has helped ADD me.

Eve said...

Flexible Outliner, but I love editing my chapters as I go. I love to see the story emerge as I polish. It kicks my creativity into overdrive. :)

Shelby said...

Hmm...my writing style would have to be somewhere between SOTP and Flexible Outliner. I am currently 130 pages into a novel and it all started with a simple idea and a name. It flowed from there, and I only knew about some of the main things that would happen. I outline the most important and intricate events, but sometimes my outlines are destroyed by a new idea that suddenly explodes into my head.
My point...I never really know where my story is going to take me. I like it that way because every word I write provides a new adventure...

Amy Browning said...

Shelby - so eloquently stated. I am exactly the same way and enjoy the entire process as a whole. It is definitely an adventure.

Does anyone else wake up in the middle of the night with a stroke of brilliance? Sometimes my brain is working on the story even when I'm sleeping. I don't dream the story, I just wake up with ideas or with solutions to character conundrums.

Brett said...

Isn't tonite the next contest announcement?

Pais Charos said...

Good question. :)

Roheryn said...

ih, I'm with Pais... I can't even think of doing an outline... my charries find that hilarious...

and I hope its the announcement...

WayneThomasBatson said...

Winner for Suspense Technique #4 coming soon.

Roheryn said...

ooh!! GOOD!!
*bounces up and down*

Shelby said...

Amy,
I do indeed get hit with the "sudden stroke of brilliance" and sometimes at the strangest moments... However, I also feel sometimes that ideas are pouring into my head so quickly that by the time I've begun to write one down, another is already there! Do you ever feel like that???

Grandmas said...

Hey Wayne. I co-host a morning radio show and we do a segment called turn the page. Our son has read your first two books, loved them. We are interviewing him this morning and would love to have you on Thursday morning at 9:10. Can you give me feedback?
leeannmiller.net

WayneThomasBatson said...

Hey, Grandmas, thanks for the invite. I've got Thursday open and would love to appear on your radio show. eMail me at batguy21784@yahoo.com so we can clarify the details.

Thanks!

-WtB

Amy Browning said...

Yep Shelby - me too!

Sometimes I can't write as fast as my brain works, well - most of the time it's that way. I got a digital voice recorder for my b-day from my parents and it's been a life saver. I can just get the ideas out and then later, sit down to actually write them out. I highly recommend it. :)

pixy said...

Sheesh, I'm definitely a SOTP writer--but I'm hoping to be reformed into a flexable outliner someday so that I can avoid those horrid massive rewrites you mentioned. There may be hope for me.