… giving me indigestion.
I bought Scrivener a few days ago, and was happily putting my NaNoWriMo novel into it. I love the way each part of the story is easily accessible, and how the outline and corkboard views make it easy to see the story’s trajectory. So far so good. I was psyched.
Then I decided to put my first (unfinished) novel in, and uff da. What a mess! What I’ve written covers most of the protag’s life, from just after birth to his 50s in therapy.
::excuse me while I die laughing at myself::
Ahem. That took a while. Advice from the writing blogosphere: don’t write your character’s therapy. It’s boring to read! (in my defense, I got bored myself and didn’t finish the scene…)
I was a complete pantser when I wrote the Canelli book, with no concern for plotting. I had scenes in my mind, and though many of them turned into true chapters, the chapters don’t fit together. In fact, the character changed as I wrote, becoming a much more complex, darker character. That kind of character development works well in novels, but I’d been writing his story out of chronological order. At 38 (which I wrote in August 2011) he’s a dark character, while at 48 (which I wrote in March 2011) he’s a happy being of light.
I hope to rescue this 96k novel and turn it into something more readable. (Yes, I wrote nearly 100k in this meandering mess.)
My first task: setting up a three to four-act plot. What is the point? Who/what is the antagonist? What does the protag want? What is his passion? What scares him to death, makes him break out in a cold sweat? What would he give everything he has to have in his life?
My second task is like unto the first: deciding what happens in the end, and write it. Is the guy salvageable? Or have his secret compulsions backed him into such a dark place that there is no way out? Will he manage to weasel his way out of XXX?
Can I bust out a series of short stories from this manuscript? Or a bloody TRILOGY? (Duology?) Or a sensible Contemporary Fiction 85k word novel? Or will I finish it at all?
That’s a lot of questions to be answered. There’s a bunch of dreck to be deleted, okay stuff to be rewritten, and some awesome wordsmithing in the manuscript. Time to spend some time coming up with a working logline, and plot from there.
The basic formula for a logline (from Anne R. Allen’s linked post above):
When______happens to_____, he/she must_____or face_____.
That’s what I don’t yet have… but I will!