Proper preparation


I’ve cleared the decks, and got back to work on Holly Lisle’s ‘How To Think Sideways’ course again this evening – I’m about 3 lessons behind, so I need to get caught up and back on track.

It is very peculiar. I have the ‘Sere’ project as my test-project for the course, and whilst I’m getting progressively more and more excited about writing the story, my confidence in my ability to actually deliver it is diminishing.

I think a huge part of that reason is the amount of planning and preparation that’s going in up front on it. I totally understand why it needs to be done, and some of the technical aspects and angles and elements that have been brought in have been absolutely revelatory. But I’ve always been a basic seat-of-my-pants writer, plunging into a novel with minimal outlining and pre-planning, and then just bashed the words out until I reach the end, so all this thinking and planning up front is very alien.

I’m going to stick with it. I think I can see that there will be benefits at the end – not least of which is much less work in the edits and reworks necessary. The major downside of my seat-of-the-pants approach is that every novel I’ve written needs rewriting afterwards to put all the plot twists and holes and  diversions into their rightful place (often in the cut file) to get somewhere approaching coherent.

But that doesn’t stop me having a little panic as I look at the neat little pile of pristine index cards (well, OK, so they’re home-made slips out the recycling box, because I couldn’t make myself be that profligate with new paper) waiting for me to start outlining . . . . do I really have to do all that?!?!!?!?!?!? Looks like hard work to me, but then I guess it’ll pay off when it comes to writing, and I don’t have to sit staring into space, wondering where the heck the next line is coming from. (I surely hope so).

In the meantime, I have in the back of my mind the knowledge that I need to start work on editing ‘Serpent’, and I’m wondering if this technique might work there, because I’m more or less certain that I’ve got a couple of massive holes somewhere, and I know as well I’m going to have to do some major reworks on the more – ahem – intimate scenes between the two main characters, because at the moment that stuff would land it in the adult section as ‘erotica’. My mother would be horrified. Still, I take it as a good sign that I’m actually looking forward to getting stuck into it, and that I feel excited about attacking a big writing project again.

I haven’t felt that way for a while, which is why I’ve been tinkering around the edges of my back catalogue of short stories for the last six months. Now, I feel like I’m in the right mindset and that I’ve laid in the proper groundwork, and also, importantly, that I’ve changed, matured and improved as a writer as a result of the work I’ve done on that back catalogue and with the focus on learning new methods and looking at my work (and others) with a sharply critical eye. I just hope that translates into a good performance, come the hour.


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