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Very Tiny Countdown

October 29, 2012

It’s a NaNo countdown…very tiny…? Ah, what do you know from funny?

The outline is officially fully-formed, character intro to denouement, even a 2-page coda at the end.  While chapters are really glorified scenes, each scene is fully structured in its own little outline.  It’s a masterpiece of outlining if I do say so myself.  And, in the spirit of giving credit where it is due, I want to give the credit for this to my word processor, Scrivener.

The layout of Scrivener is very much designed for the outliner.  At first I was turned off by this because, contrary to my recent blog history, I am not an outliner.  I’m a pantser (but not the kind that sneaks up behind you and pulls down your gym shorts).  However, as I learned during last year’s NaNo, writing a novel is not really a pantser’s game.  Some degree of planning and structure is a necessity, though how much and what form varies author to author.  The only novel I ever finished writing was the very first thing I wrote, for which I had an outline (complete with Roman numerals and indents).  Scrivener’s index card system gave me tools with which to brainstorm and organize my thoughts; quite a feat, as anyone who has ever seen my desk can attest.  Moreover, the outlining system gives me the framework to start writing scenes and keep those scenes linked to the respective portion of the outline.  And I can’t wait to get to it.

I have only used Scrivener for one other project before, a very segmented short story entitled “The Scrapper and the Saint Bernard” for the collection Galactic Creatures.  In that story, each index card was a scene in which the main character spoke into his space suit’s recording device. It was 100% dialog, though 95% of the story was him talking to himself or to a mostly inanimate satellite.  (Confused?  Think Cast Away in space.)  Anyway, the story was very experimental in format and I wanted to have a feel for the structure before I tried to write the story; it needed a descent into delirium I had never attempted, and without stage directions.  I embraced the structure and was incredibly happy with the result.  There may well be something to this whole outlining thing.

Still, we’re talking about a sentence or two to structure each thousand words.  A pretty thorough substructure, no doubt, but I still have a whole lot of gaps to fill during the writing process.  And the outline went through some growing pains as each chapter notecard grew into 3-6 notecards.  Chapters split, merged, reorganized, new chapters spawned.  I’d be a fool to think the same won’t happen in the writing process.  And again when I finally reach the editing phase.  This is by far the largest project I’ve ever undertaken and I have done ten times the prep that I’ve put into any other project.  I have no excuse to fail.  So I guess I’d better not.

My goals for the next two days include reacquainting myself with the first few chapters of the outline and condensing my novel into an elevator pitch so I can tell people what the heck I’m writing without robbing them of a half hour.  That may be the biggest challenge of the bunch.

It’s almost here; good luck, WriMos!

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