The last few months I’ve been trying out a new process (yes, yes, yes – a process is the way it’s done [before the procedure of outline], and I’m talking about from Idea to Concept to Premise to Beat to Balance Sheet to [finally] Outline) and it’s proving a little difficult at certain points.
Don’t get me wrong – I love how it works, and I can see how (in the end) it will make my life so much easier (and the novels so much better), but when undertaking a new way of doing things, it is sometimes difficult to retain the focus to the new way. There’s always something that pops up its head and says ‘I’m much more juicy to chew on than that silly thing! Come play with me.’ Or: ‘That’s so hard – come play with me the way you used to.’
But the power and passion that comes from understanding the new process is (well, can be) All-Encompassing. I can feel the bits that lack the full gamut of story; I can stand up and walk around the picture I create with these things; I can feel the life of the characters as they do their thing (always remember: character in action [yes, still a weak point that has to be considered when outlining each scene]). It is power, and once I get my head around how to turn that switch on for each and every idea that compels the passionate embrace of a story unfolding, it will be worth it.
For the moment, I struggle through each section, each scene, each character arc. I put words in the final outline that sound like a good journey – and then I see how it could be made much more dramatic, with much higher stakes, and an outcome that evokes a full-body response in terms of emotion.
Well, that’s me – if by the time it’s finished and the context of that connection is still there, I’ll be the happiest chappie (writerly type) in the world (kitchen).
So, back to work (where’s that cat – he’s supposed to do this editing task?) to discover new things about how to make it betterer, gooderer, and uber-interesting (compelling, in fact).
And that brings me to the apprenticeship of writing. I’m the person who’s been doing the story thing since I was a kid, but when you have a life in the country, when you do country school stuff and have limited access to resources and personnel who could point the way – what is there to do [pre-internet, but even now internet is a variable thing out there]? And when you finish school, life insists you need to earn your way (and writing? who does that? layabouts, that’s who – get a real job!) by enslaving your soul to the multi-national (or worse, government).
But now that’s over, and I’m free (sort of, still have to pay taxes, etc.) to put my words in the proper order to make them into stories that become novels that end up out there in the world. And it’s been a long and hard path, because first I had to learn things:
1. Everything’s changed, and the rules of novel are mucho different;
2. Most of the resources (books and tutors) are as much in the dark as everyone else;
3. The people who do know what they’re doing and talking about don’t talk to plebs (the ones who do are very hard to find – gold dust in the river of muddy life);
4. The words used are vague and wobbly – and big! – to make it harder to break through and in (and hide their vagueness of comprehension);
5. The young writer/s suffer the condescension of published author/s (yes, it happens).
01. One thing hasn’t changed: People still have the passion for putting story together.
Now my apprenticeship is over. Last year I wrote several novels (yeah, a bit rough, or even a bit worse than rough) and what I learned through the process of doing that practical work, of keeping my eyes and ears open for what worked and what didn’t, and the act (verb) of continually seeking (see, my own journey) the Way. And I found it.
This year, I will write (and co-write) at least the number of books I wrote last year, but these ones will be not only be good, they will be better, and by the end of the year, I want to have the concept of Best in there.
Next year will be the Best Story I Ever Wrote (unless I get to it this year, of course).
So, back to work … … …