Thursday, December 1, 2011

November To Semi-remember

Hey, look! November didn’t swallow me whole, as I’ve returned and I’m NaNo-triumphant! Well, at least in the proper context of things.

See, in early November, Sierra Godfrey discovered this miracle book called Save The Cat. We spent many, many, many late night Google Chat sessions deconstructing the storytelling advice in this book and applying it to our own works in progress. At the same time, I was considering the target market and lead POV for A Question Of Lust, and the Save The Cat formula seemed to be a good way to help me restructure things.

And it worked! It worked too well, actually, as some cutting and pasting and editing got me very happy about my first half. The second half…well, structurally, it was a mess because of the shift in lead POV. Everything either happened too fast or too slow and I spent a week pondering all of this.

Now, I had an idea hanging around in my noggin that I’d discussed in brief with Sierra and Christy Finn. The working title was The Pause and it was literally a few major story arcs and rough character outlines, but the idea itself – a mash-up of Nick Hornby-style and genre fiction –really tickled my fancy.

With that in mind – and being frustrated to hell with my second-half structure – I decided to work with the Save The Cat beat sheet and see if I could flesh out a full story for The Pause. It came together quicker than I thought, and it seemed logical to just start writing the darn thing. At least then I could really participate in NaNo.

That was around mid-November. Two weeks and two Thanksgiving dinners later, I’ve pounded out 20,000 words and I feel like I have a very solid outline for pushing this forward. I’ve talked about how much I love outlines in the past, but the beauty of Save The Cat is that provides structure to the outline. An outline itself can only go so far if you don’t know the appropriate length of a section, and having set targets makes pacing much, much easier.

Do I attempt to fix A Question Of Lust? Perhaps later; when you’re on a roll, you might as well ride it out. I’m one to set lofty goals for myself – I’d rather aim high and push myself than set modest targets and not doing as much as I could have. So, it’s December 1 and I’m pretty happy with my outline, so I’m putting the end-of-December goal to have 55,000 words in The Pause done and the full first-draft done by the end of January.

It’s not quite what some of you other NaNo-ers have managed to produce, but all things considered, I feel full-speed-ahead with it. We’ll see if the Save The Cat beat sheet helps dull the usual burnout feeling around the 35k mark.

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