I’ve hit the 45k word mark on Netwalk’s Children and am well and truly in the infamous “muddle in the middle.” Even with the extensive plotting and prewriting prep, I’m writing pages and pages which feel like overwriting, blathering, and flailing around trying to find the right words. It’s a temptation to go back and rewrite, but discipline and experience tell me no, it’s time to keep pushing on through. By now I realize that this muddle to some extent is a necessary tactic, because I have expository information which needs to get transmitted at some point, and it’s only after the whole book is written that I’ll be able to prune it in an effective manner, extend it into actual scenes, take scenes out, and so on.
Having the outline, the scene tracker, and the scribbled notes helps, though. Because of the moving and life upheaval which is Immanent. Any. Day. Now, I engaged in the extensive plotting practice. It’s more elaborate than anything else I’ve done, and it’s a learning process.
So here’s what I’ve learned about doing the more detailed planning in advance so far:
Lesson # 1. Ambush plot developments still happen. But it’s easier to integrate them into the story flow with a means of tracking scenes and plot developments, especially if you can go back to notes to find exactly when foreshadowing breadcrumbs need to be inserted.
Lesson #2. The actual writing is where you find the holes in your prewriting/plotting. It’s all well and good to say in your outline that “Bess will do x, y, and z,” until you actually write that scene and discover that “y” doesn’t fit with the character interactions within that scene.
Lesson #3. Prewriting/plotting helps you the writer focus on the deeper elements of your story. I’m finding more brainspace to think about how my characters interact with daily elements in their world because I’m not worried about where they are going/what they are doing.
Lesson #4. All that said, prewriting/plotting doesn’t get rid of the need for rewrites and editing. It just provides a means for me to move past the tough parts and notice what I’ll have to go back and rewrite, while not stewing about “what do I do next?” I think it will prove to be a better tool for faster editing and rewriting, which is a very good thing.
Basically, I’m operating from the point of view of getting the words down fast, and focusing on book completion rather than perfection the first time through. Doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about what I’m writing, because I do. While my current daily goal is 1500-3000 words a day, I’m not blithely dashing those words off in an hour or two (except for the coffeeshop morning write with a friend, and that writing is usually scripted/choreographed).
It’s an interesting process. We’ll see what happens in revisions. I’ve completely dropped one icky subplot because the characters didn’t like it (whew, that was a tough one to contemplate creating). A second major subplot is on its way out the door because I really don’t need it for character development across the series arc and I can see where continuing with it will only lead me down the wrong story trails. I’ve gone off the charted path in some arcs because, well, it just works better.
It’s an adventure, for sure.