You can write this thing.

I know it’s a mess in your head. And you’re busy.

And I know you’ve got a story. A great, green glob of a story. You might not know the details yet, but you know they’re there, somewhere, in that mess in your head.

And I know that stringing together the hours and days and brain cells it would take to write through the mess is probably a pipe dream.

But that’s only if you try to write the forest.

You don’t need to write the forest.

You need to get high enough to see the forest, map it out, and write the trees, one at a time, in the little minutes and hours you salvage from your day.

Story:

Outline:

Chapter:

You can do it.

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Chapter 4

Oh, Chapter 4.

This was the week that I discovered outlines don’t fix everything.

Seven days on one chapter, people. Three rewrites. Not revisions. Rewrites, from top to bottom.

Three very different answers to that one little line on my magic outline. Three correct answers, technically, but only one of them was right for the novel, and it took all week to hammer it out.

Maybe my outline isn’t specific enough. Maybe instead of, “Push and pull, Hal tries to come to terms with Ellen’s pregnancy and to temper his fears in light of her happiness,” I should have planned the specific meetings, conversations, settings, that would bear that out.

But could I have? At that point, before writing, so far removed from where the characters and dialogue would play out, how could I have known the specific locations and conversations that would come into play? I’m not talented enough to see that far ahead without writing through it. Three times, in this case.

But, but, but… The magic of the outline is in the fact that, even though I wrestled my text for a week, trying to get it right, I’m not discouraged. I don’t feel like giving up. Not in the slightest way. Because I have another prompt to tackle tomorrow, for Chapter 5. And Chapter 4 has led me to the specific settings and the dialogues I need to answer it.

My outline keeps motivating me, and I get to tweak it into a little more detail, chapter by chapter, as I go.

This is a blog about a book.

This is a blog about a book, a book which I am actually writing.

For reals. I am writing the heck out of this book.

And I will keep writing the heck out of this book until it is done.

I do not doubt that. Not one little bit, even though I have picked at and sat on and danced around this book for nine years without ever actually writing it.

This time is different. This time it’s real.

Know why? Know why, know why?

Because I have the magical ticket to novel completion, known as

the outline.

Wassup now? You doubt me now? I don’t.

I already have 2.4 chapters, the product of one week of full-time planning and one week of full-time writing.

I know what goes on in Chapter 3, and Chapter 4, and Chapter 18.

I know the background and the plot synopsis of every major character, and the minor characters.

I know roughly how long it will take me to write this thing.

I know the ending. It’s true.

And so…

And so and so and so…

In my joy that a novel is about to be born, and, dare I hope, maybe even printed and published into the wide world, I am writing a blog.

Mostly on Sundays.

The other days I write a book.