I did it. I made the account. And… I agonized over the author’s bio portion of the account. Ultimately I decided to just put in why I was there. After giving up on two novels in the past (after starting over on both half way multiple times) I think it’s high time to send the inner critic on vacation next month and just let the words fly. See what happens. The worst that happens is I don’t make it. Nothing new. The best that happens? I end up with a completed, shiny new (yet still crappy) first draft to refine and polish. And yes, all first drafts are cow patties that need to be cultivated into something divine.
Now in the past I admit that I’m typically a “Pantster” or somewhere in between the “Pantster” and “Planner” at best. I’m not usually one for outlining plots. Usually I have rough character sketches, a basic loose plot and setting, and then just dump the characters in to see what happens. Yea, really that’s what I do with character driven stories. I’m more interested in seeing how a character will respond, think, say, or react than I am in making some fixed plot work. So I just usually give the character a starting point, have a basic idea of where I think it will end, and just run with it. That’s it. But you can usually get away with that in a short story. Because it’s short. Once the first draft is done you can easily clean it up and tighten it where you need to. It becomes more challenging to do that with a novel. Derailing is a huge pitfall and one that I am prone for. One that I allow myself to do here in my blog to some extent. Sometimes it’s a guilty pleasure to just allow my mind to tumble into whatever rabbit holes it wishes to at whim. You can’t do that with a novel and expect it to make sense.
This time for this book writing attempt I believe I need to be a planner. I already have my first line for this book. (No, not telling you yet which line I’m choosing.) And I have the two main characters in mind, but they probably need to be fleshed out more. The villain has been selected but of course needs major fleshing out. Always does. Not sure why my villains fall into that camp, but they do. For whatever reason “the big bad” variety villains I try to write end up sucking to some various degree. Maybe I shouldn’t make a villain at all, but rather just an opponent of some kind? A rival of some kind or a good guy for another team? We’ll see.
In any case, it basically it boils down to this: I’ve decided to deviate from my usual character driven stories and attempt to write a plot driven story. This means I need to plan ahead. Quite honestly though I don’t think I’m very good at that. So here is what I’ve been reading up on and pondering for the time being:
- Hero’s Journey Plot Format
- Three Act Structure
- Lester Dent’s Plot Format (for pulp fiction)
- Michael Moorcock’s expansion of Lester Dent’s format
Now bear in mind that when you use a plot format you need to customize the hell out of it. You need to make it your own. Otherwise it’s just a cookie cutter robot thing on a page. Not cool. So this leaves me plenty of free license for “character driving” after I have clearly defined and set my plot. If I flesh out the characters first and clearly plan the plot second, then the characters shouldn’t derail the story when I let them drive. In theory….
In any case, I wish Scholar Owl was willing to join me in this event this year. He keeps saying no. Today he said he has no idea what he would write. I told him that the point of this month is to decide and plan that out so that next month you have the freedom to just write. He still didn’t seem to have an interest in it. Oh well, maybe next year then.