So, at last, I have that Writers of the Future story polished and sent out for this quarter (hurrah!), which leaves me with a fair few stories still sitting around incomplete or in need of some spit and polish, but only two that I’m really keen to finish and send out in the near future. One has crept up into novelette territory, breaking eight thousand words, while the other’s a plain ol’ short story at about half that size–and it’s the second one that needs more work. Fortunately, both are mostly done, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get them both in shape.
And my real goal, ultimately, is to get them out the way — and then, gear up to concentrate on all that novel writing I haven’t been doing.
And it’s here where some of that outlining is going to come into its own. What I’m working on at the moment would be the third novel draft I’ve written — I finished one, extremely weak one back in 2002, and then another rather better one (but still not what I wanted from it) a few years ago. The latter of those two I’ve sidelined as being more of an exploration of the concept, mainly because I know I can do a lot more with the setting and premise I put together — I already know more than I did when I wrote it, and already have a fairly complex outline produced and printed out for what I hope will be much improved version.
In the meantime, I’m working on something different.
And that something different is something I’ve been working on for a while, and is something I still like, despite having worked on it for a while (which is quite unusual). And it actually HAD a solid outline, up to a point. But I’m now coming close to the point where that outline will be exhausted, and will get into the realm of “something like this has to happen” in my scribbled notes…
But I have the solution! Sitting just beyond my guide to poisons and my rhyming dictionary is a three-subject ruled notebook (I love these, why didn’t we have these in England?) with each of the three sections allocated to different things — the first for short-fiction ideas, with NOTES this time (my last notebook proved to be quite cryptic when I came back to it later, though that did spawn at least one decent story). The second is for short-story outlines. And the last is for outlines of bigger stories, such as this one.
I have outlined many stories on paper, and I really enjoy brainstorming the stories there. I can do a pretty good job of organising everything afterwards on the computer, and sometimes I even get a good story together — but I’m not as good at considering the storyline there. My best outlines are done either on paper, or lying in the dark and just mulling over the ideas. The PC is, I suppose, just too speedy an environment for the right level of consideration — or at least, it seems to be for me.
And soon enough, now, it’ll be time to shift gears — upwards, from short story to novel, and downwards, from PC to pen-and-paper. Let the outlining begin…