Writing is hard. That much, I think, we can all agree on.
You have so many ideas tumbling around in your head, all vying for attention: scenes, dialogue, characters, plots etc. And it seems like you can never manage to get them all down before more barrel in to replace them.
That’s why outlining is so important. It’s a way to nail down all those ideas in a systematic way, a method by which you can place them all in line where they can wait patiently to be addressed.
Even with an outline though, it sometimes feels like you’re just phoning it in at certain points in the story in an effort to get to those exciting bits that you’re itching to explore and expand upon. For me, the last couple of scenes in my Historical Fiction piece have felt like that, mere stepping stones to get to the good stuff, and I know that I’ve not displayed my best work in those scenes.
But I always think of a story as a body. In the first draft, the writer is more concerned with laying down the bones of the corpse, making sure it all fits together into a cohesive shape. Now, some parts of the body may have some meat and joints laid out over the bones, i.e. the parts of the story that you couldn’t help but elaborate on and fully “flesh” out. But for the most part, the story is its bones.
Then you go over and begin laying down muscle, meat, tendons, sinew, curves, skin, and unique features. The individuality comes out, the defining features that make your story, your body, unique and different.
Underneath it all, we all have the same bones, and they’re all put together the same way, just as every story follows – pretty much – the same structure, with inciting events, mid-points, and climactic moments. On top of that is what makes you you, and what will make your story your own.
Maybe it ends up with a little fat in the middle, or the end drags on a bit too long. These are individual characteristics that can be addressed during the editing process.
For now, it’s a matter of just getting the bones on the table.
- Novel Progress ~ Day 122 (lalammar.net)