Meandering around, finding my own best ways of working on my writing has once again turned into “the road less taken.” Or maybe not taken at all, except by natural-born contrarians. An outlining technique I came across a few years ago seemed as if it might be something I could deal with in pre-planning novels. The method, Phase Outlining, was developed by Lazette Gifford, who used to be prominent (as a moderator, I think) on the NaNoWriMo forums. She published a little book, NaNo for the New and the Insane, part of which is describes phase outlining. It’s still available for free on Smashwords. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/84837
It was helpful to me the first year I tried it, but as usual, I wandered off the path somewhere along the way and never used it again. What does this have to do with my current road not taken. Well, as I’ve been working on Camp Expendable, I’ve been making notes about what’s in some of the chapters. Not in any systematic way, you understand. Most of the chapter have no notes at all, and none have enough for anyone to get a good idea of what each chapter is about.
I’ve run into a few continuity issues lately. Or maybe they aren’t continuity issues and I just can’t remember what I wrote, where. I’ve had the same problem with every novel I’ve written and it’s very, very annoying. The most obvious way to avoid it is to create an outline of some sort. And that’s what I plan to do — after the fact, as soon as I’ve finished revising the last chapter. I can’t make an outline before I start writing because I don’t know what I’m going to write. Was it Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass who said something like: How do I know what I think until I see what I say? That’s me.
As it’s turning out, an outline of sorts may be my best tool for final editing, not for getting the darn thing written. I’m putting much more effort into this novel than any previous one. I’ve always made sure typos and such get stomped, but I didn’t pay much attention (any at all?) to niceties like story arcs or tension. Some of us are slower than others, but we get there eventually.
I’m about halfway through, with eight and a half chapter to go, subjecting each chapter to analysis with ProWritingAid. Once that’s done, I will reread the entire novel, filling in an outline of each chapter. The plan is to get it finished and published by the end of March. Knowing me, that probably won’t happen, but at least it’s a goal. Somewhat unrealistically, I hope to stay on a four to six weeks schedule for novel completion and publication this year, with maybe two months granted to the nonfiction book.
Wish me luck.