Last Saturday was the day. I promised myself all week that Saturday was the day…and it was. I’d managed to keep the WHOLE of Saturday free and got some new college-lined paper, made sure I had my special pen (a $25 Watermen fountain pen), my clipboard, a printout of the pages I’ve produced thus far, my almost intelligible notes, and away I went to Amante’s. In the rain.
Yeah, it was raining, taking Colorado ’s 90 degree mid-August temperatures down to the mid-fifties, dropping snow on the mountains, and making a sweatshirt and socks a good idea. It’s warming up again now, as it does, but for several days it was cold enough for the heat to kick on. (I like to write my notes and outlines by hand because I’m old fashioned that way. Plus, I find the process to be slower and allows me to proceed in a more thoughtful manner, which I feel produces better results. When I get on the computer, yeah, I can type like the wind, but it’s only if I’ve done the prep work beforehand.)
I ordered a latte, which for those of you who don’t know, is ½ espresso and ½ steamed milk. I eventually had two of the damned things and haven’t slept since. (It’s now Friday.) Next time, yeah, get the latte, but only order one, at least that’s what I tell myself now. But, with coffee, all things are possible, so this is what I got done:
I made a complete list of all locations and characters, which isn’t busy work when you consider that this is Victorian London, and there are a maze of streets to keep track of.
I separated the list of characters from the list of locations. I plan to make a map at some point of the locations, their relationship to each other, the time it would take to walk from one point to another. I already know what each spot looks like, so I’m good there.
I wrote out what I needed to know about each character, and then made a second list with dead characters on one list and living characters on another. Then I grouped them, because not all of them abide in the same location.
I discovered that I had given multiple names to the same minor characters. While I’m sure I’m the ONLY writer who has ever done this, at least I spotted it and it’s an easy fix.
I figured out, and wrote down, at which point J and O become friends, when they start working together instead of against each other. J decides it first, and then O. That also helped me get a grip on the characters, who were getting out of hand. I still need to work on the attributes of the two main characters, everyone else I pretty much have down.
Then, as I got to my second latte, I wrote out the outline by writing a list of plot points. Then I expanded on this by creating a second list, adding in those relevant actions or points where characters were introduced. Then, finally, I created my final outline. I gave each scene a space of half a page, and while this might work out to be a chapter per scene, I think some of the scenes got rather long and might be several chapters because, really, they are more than one scene.
I have determined, finally, that this will be a single POV story, because while I enjoy J’s observations, I wasn’t really digging trying to write about his backstory. (His backstory includes shearing sheep, you see, and I did NOT want to go there.) I love him, I adore him, but this is not his story. He’ll get his say, though, and he’s got plenty of opinions; there’ll be no dearth of J. Anyway, since I’ve determined this, one of my next steps is to extricate scenes written from J’s POV and either rewrite them, work them into J’s dialog, or integrate them into O’s scenes. Well, since this is O’s story, they are ALL O’s scenes, but you see what I mean.
I need to make a map of my locations.
I need to find and change the characters who have multiple names.
I need to work on my notes, which are messy at best. I tend to write down questions I have about the story, and then, forgetting I’ve written that down, write it down again on a different piece of paper. Hence, I have pages and pages of the same information in different formats. I need to condense this information.
Funny thing is, I did all this work, which took eight hours, without hardly looking at my printout of the novel itself. I had gone through it originally to make my character/location list at first, but then, after that, it was all in my head, which I found to be quite strange. I mean, it’s not that I don’t have to look at it again, which I do, but I realized that I’d been walking around with the entire outline in my damn head for a while now, and it just took a little gumption, a nice rainy day, and two lattes to bring it out into the open. Plus, at 100,000 words the thing is officially a novel, and, much to my surprise, the draft is 75% written. Yeah, there’s stuff to add, but a lot of the structure is there, and if you’ve got something to hang your story on, you’re most of the way home. This was most gratifying to find out. I anticipate that with everything in place I should be able to finish the draft by December 31st. The draft, mind you. After that, there’s rewrites and I need to find an agent….oh boy!
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