Productive Writing

Hey, it’s actually been a productive few weeks of writing!

For the past few years I’ve been struggling to find both inspiration and time to finish a novel I actually started five years ago. The first two years probably produced the bulk of the book, but, life got in the way (as it tends to do) and I just haven’t done much more than subtle tweaks and minor rewrites since.

Seriously, at the rate I was going, it would never get done.

Part of the problem is, having been a work in progress for five years, a lot has change. My head was in a much different place when I started than where it is now. Things that I thought worked back in 2011 and 2012 aren’t cutting it in 2016. Characters have evolved… Scenes have changed… stuff that great in general, but caused undeniable issues with continuity that had to be addressed. I think subconsciously I was afraid to tackle the book because fixing everything and completing the novel was going to be a big deal.

But, I’m getting it done.

Since my last blog entry, I’ve done a significant amount of writing, in addition to something I should have done from the beginning: outlining. While I’ve always known the basic plot points that will get the book from it’s beginning to its conclusion, getting the different story arcs to flow right needed some structured process to get them right. I’m also not just outlining, but I’m also “timelining.” The story has always been set in the “present” but as the present is now five years ahead of when I started the novel, I’ve decided to set the story in 2015 (mostly to avoid having the presidential election be a concurrent story that I couldn’t ignore), and using Microsoft Excel, linked all the events of the book to a specific day of the year. This has not only made it easier to keep track of the action of the book, it has helped me tighten the story, making it, in my opinion, stronger. In my story, it is actually helpful to know what day of the week certain action takes place on, and keeping track of milestones helps me feel that the events of the book are rooted in reality.

This also forced me to think of things that I hadn’t before. Such as character birthdays. When were they born, who’s older and who’s younger? Whose birthdays will take place during the action of the book, whose won’t. What holidays occur during the action of the book, and do I need to tweak my story accordingly? Perhaps I’m overthinking things, but this being my first novel, I’m trying to keep things as solid as possible.

It’s been a good few weeks. I’m actually believing a first draft can be completed this year.