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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Adventures in Prequeldom: When Outlines Attack

I promised that I would blog about the experience of banging my head against my laptop…um, I mean writing my prequel. And since I am a glorious, fantastic, drop-down-on-my-knees-and-give-praise 20,000 words into the prequel, I think I’m ready to dispel with the words of wisdom.



The process of getting from “staring at the blank page before me” to 20K goes a little something like this:

Prequel, How Not To Lose Sanity While Writing


Step 1 – Break book into acts. The first 20,000 words for me represent Act 1. It’s just like a play. I put an initiating incident and mini climax into each act as I build to the ultimate climax and dénouement at the end. For this book, I have three acts planned.

Step 2 – Stare at your pretty outline with three clearly defined, color-coded acts and feel proud. This is particularly important for me because I’m not an outliner, so I expect applause and a standing ovation for this feat.

Step 3
– Place bulletin board with clearly defined, color-coded acts in front of your husband’s dresser so every time he has to open a drawer, he has to move it. Share the pain.

Step 4 – Transfer the clearly defined, color-coded notes for Act 1 into an artist sketchbook in “Mind Map” format and keep sketchbook by laptop while writing. This is where I add additional color-coded notes to the outline to identify things I’ve changed while writing. (I change a lot. Outlines are made to be broken.)

Step 5 – Watch a rerun of Buffy and marvel at the awesome dialogue. “Make with the happy, people.”

Step 6 – Write first chapter. Read first chapter. Rewrite first chapter. Read first chapter. Repeat, repeat, repeat. (I don’t know why but I always spend a lot of time reworking Chapter Numero Uno before I move on. It sets the whole tone of the book—the voice, the characters, the everything. It’s important.)

Step 7
– Force yourself to write between 1,500 to 3,000 words per day while listening to the Adult Alternative channel on Comcast Cable.

Step 8
– Dance. No joke. You pound out 3,000 words that day, you stand up and you dance. Trust me on this.



(Yes, all I could find on Youtube was a video with Asian subtitles.)

POP CULTURE RANT: American Idol
I’m still coming out of my Olympic coma and checking out what’s been on TV since before the days of snowboard cross and men’s free skates. And I just caught my first episode of this season’s American Idol. Yeah, not good. I saw the guy’s Top Ten. Or that’s what they claimed, though the only one worth a mention was the David Cook sound-alike at the end. The rest—in the words of Simon— were either “utterly forgettable” or “self indulgent.” A couple actually tried to take Marvin Gaye and Tina Turner songs and “make them better.” Um, yeah, good luck with that.

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