I mentioned the other day that I’m having a spat with my second novel and we’re currently on a break.
In the meantime, I started working on another project, a YA horror novel that has been brewing in my head for the last few months. I came up with a quick outline and wrote a thousands words of the first scene.
The only problem is that those first thousand words just don’t feel right. At first, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong.
It seemed like it was the pacing; things were rushed.
But then there was also filler; things were mundane.
And then when I got to the main point of the opening scene, it was too “telly”.
In other words, I had too many unimportant things at first, and then rushed to the main point of the scene and told (instead of showed) the reader what happened.
There was no consistency at all, and I like to think that one of my stronger points as a writer is my consistency in voice–there it is! My problem was that I had no consistent voice in the first thousand words of this novel.
I thought about this for a long time. Where is my voice? And to answer that question, I started asking myself a lot of other questions. For instance, “What type of story do I really want this to be?” and “What direction do I want this story to go in?”
And then I took a step back. Before I wrote any words of that brief opening, I wrote a tiny and very basic outline of the overlying story arc. Looking over those mere three-hundred words in the outline, I saw more excitement and passion than in any of the words I wrote for the actual writing.
Let’s take a little side-step and let me tell you how I usually feel about detailed outlining. It’s never worked for me before. I always feel like writing a detailed outline kills my creativity when it comes to writing the actual story. That it locks you in and takes away the freedom to create as you write. I will sometimes (as I did with this novel, and with Holy Fudgesicles) write down a couple of paragraphs to outline the main story arc just to get me started, but never a full outline. After all, part of the fun of writing is watching the story create itself as I write it.
But with this novel, I’m going to try writing a detailed outline first. It is a much more complicated novel than Holy Fudgesicles. It’s also one that needs to stay on track. I think that as I work on a more detailed outline, I’ll be able to answer those questions I asked earlier, and the voice I’m looking for will come through.
One of the biggest reasons I’m taking a break from Heroes of Eden, is that I discovered a couple of huge structural problems with the story and just needed to chill for a bit before tackling them. I’m hoping that by outlining this novel, I can prevent that from ever happening again.
So, I’ll spend this weekend working on an outline and we’ll see how it goes.
And I’m looking forward to it. Trying new writing stuff is what helps us grow as writers.