A third of the way through a very sketchy draft of the novel — obviously the perfect time to start thinking about a cover design.
Keith D Edinburgh - Writings, Photographs, Reviews
Masters of Eternity — my middle grade novel — is the first significant piece of writing I’ve done where I’ve outlined it first.
I’m finding it an enlightening experience. At first, I had fears that sticking to an outline would dampen spontaneity and creativity — in the same sort of way as a paint-by-numbers kit or a colouring-in book.
As it happens, outlining has — like doing a deal with a benevolent devil — given me the best of both worlds. The outlining itself was a creative process, one which allowed me to wrestle plot points to the ground and beat them into submission before nailing them to a mixed metaphorical mast.
Now, 20,000 words in, I’ve found the outline absolutely invaluable. I’d sketched out each sequence within each scene within each act (as per David Baboulene’s The Story Book) and am now also taking the advice of treating fleshing out each scene like penning a short story, where I already know the beginning, middle and end.
Writing the words which make up the first draft is of course resulting in surprises. Characters behaving in unpredictable ways; or minor plot points twisting back on themselves to be unrecognisable from my planned outline. This has been a revelation though — the true advantages of free-form seat-of-the-pants writing, within the welcome confines of knowing where the overall story arc is going.
So everything’s still on track — and the plot & characters now have a life of their own which is much more interesting than the vague sketchy ones I had originally envisaged for them.
And my black-and-white outlined picture is now beginning to look rather fetching in full colour — even if I am going over the lines every now and again.
Last week, I started writing Masters of Eternity.
After over a month of plotting and research, I’ve finally let my fingers loose on the actual content of the outline.I’m having a blast…but there’s a little voice at the back of my head, whispering away…saying things like:
- Your writing’s not good enough — of course, everything else I’m reading at the moment is far superior to my own rambling prose…
- Your plot doesn’t make sense — despite viewing the outline from every angle, I have a jagged little splinter in my brain making me think I’ve missed something…some huge logical flaw that’s going to suck the whole thing into a whirling maelstrom of meaninglessness…
- You’ll never get it finished — I know some of what I’m writing isn’t as good as it could be just now, and I’m telling myself it’ll be fine when I come to revise and edit it…but will it? Am I creating a huge rod for my own back that’s going to end up with me wanting to travel back in time and punch myself?
- …and a million and one other doubts to do with pacing, characterisation, appeal to the target audience, etc, etc, etc…
However, everything I’ve read from other authors suggests I’m hardly alone here. I’m not the only one with an inner critic; a self-saboteur; a devil on my shoulder.
And, according to those far wiser other authors, there’s only one way to deal with this critical, sabotaging little devil.
And so I keep writing: currently an average of 1,000 words a day.
And I’m learning to ignore the voice saying 100% of those words are rubbish: and in the process, begin to pay attention to the one which says at least half of them aren’t.
I’m viewing the fact that I’ve spent nearly all of my allocated writing time in April plotting The Novel (working title: Masters of Eternity) without losing interest in it as a good sign. A great sign, actually.
Resisting the urge to get started and write the thing; instead focusing on the (relative) intricacies of the plot and characterisation. As the plot has a heavy time travel element to it, wrestling with a couple of paradoxes has helped stave off any potential boredom — though at times, I felt like taking my carefully-transcribed outline and sending it back to prehistory…
However, it’s finished. And I’m still passionate about it. I’ve chucked bricks at it until I’m satisfied it stands up to its own internal logic; I’ve closed my eyes and heard the characters speak to me (not one to admit to the psychiatrist, perhaps); I’ve rewritten the synopsis and the hook* about a dozen times until I’m (almost) happy with them. I care about this thing.
And — best of all — now I can’t wait to let the characters loose on the clockwork skeleton I’ve created for them…and see what happens.
* “Connor’s family don’t get him. Maybe — as he races back through time to defeat an ancient evil — his ancestors will.” **
** it’s a — in case you haven’t guessed — YA novel (or, more specifically, a MG one).