30 days, 130 pages
I hit the 130-page mark in The Apocalypse Corpse today, and I’ve only been seriously working on it since Jan. 1. Pretty happy about that.
One of the things that’s allowed me to make such progress is by skipping certain parts of the book and leaving them for later. It’s a trick I picked up when writing The Warhol Gang. In that book, when I ran into some plot roadblocks, I just detoured around those scenes and wrote what I knew came next. Often doing that allowed me to see what I needed to fill in those scenes I couldn’t figure out.
I’ve been doing the same thing with The Apocalypse Corpse when it comes to flashbacks. My narrator has amnesia of sorts — it’s complicated — and is trying to piece together parts of his life through flashbacks. I wasn’t happy with the flashbacks I’d been coming up with, so I stopped writing them and just concentrated on the present-day plot. Then last night when I driving through the Downtown Eastside — just commuting, I swear — it suddenly came to me what the flashbacks meant. It was like one of those card-shuffling machines — everything just snapped into place instantly. And it was all because of one of the other characters I’ve been developing. He’s grown in a way I wasn’t expecting when I sketched the plot outline, and I saw a way that he related to the flashbacks and changed everything.
So now I have the flashback sequences ready to be inserted, although I’ll probably wait to do that until I take a natural pause in writing the present-day stuff. They’re perfect, and fit into the action more smoothly now, but I couldn’t have written that into the outline. It only came to me from writing 130 pages worth of story.
So I guess the lesson is develop an outline that’s clear enough to let you jump to any part of it if you run into problems. And the rest of the book will fill itself in as you go. Like magic!
All right, now I’m off to edit some pages in one of my other new books.
Posted on January 31, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
I know exactly what you mean here. I have spent 15+ years writing without an outline thinking it would somehow destroy my ‘creativity’. Yet in the end an outline makes it easier to write and be creative because you no long sit around all day wondering what happens next and, instead, can figure out how best to make what is happening now happen. And, as you say here, there are always surprises.
Yeah. You don’t want too much of an outline, because writing out the entire plot can make you lose interest. You still need to be curious about how to get to that scene you’ve imagined. But it is a hell of a lot easier with a road map!
Congrats on The Drop, by the way.