Running Outline and Draft #1.5 for The Burning City

Part of the writing process doesn’t always mean writing story content. Sometimes it means editing (excuse me while I go and claw my eyes out), sometimes it means stopping and reading, re-reading, and sometimes it means changing. I just finished reading through 62,000 words and 10 chapters of The Burning City. After a few panic attacks, a few moments of extreme weakness, and some time spent alone with my story: I realized it wasn’t in as bad a shape as I thought.

I’m working on a new outline, and I’ll be making some minor and major changes to my existing manuscript. I’m going to keep sharing the story as I write it because that’s all part of the process. You know I’m not afraid to share hideous first, tenth or twentieth drafts with you. I can only hope that someday, when someone sits down with a copy of The Trials of Blood, maybe they’ll know that it can be done and it’s not a simple process. Maybe they’ll know someone else failed before they succeeded. A lot. And didn’t give up, and neither should they.

I can dream, right?

Dreaming has got me through one draft, and half of a second, and a handful of short stories and half-started stories. Dreaming has connected me with people, made friends out of strangers, and elevated characters from the page to my heart. So dream, damn it, and never stop.

Never stop writing, either. Advice I need to take a bit more often. I’m thankful for the friends in my life that take ten seconds out of their lives to say, “Keep writing.” Because that means: “Keep dreaming.” “Keep going.” “I believe in you.” “I love Malisyn as much as you do.” “I want to see the end of the story.”

Thank you.

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Happiness is a cat who sleeps in your bed. Happiness is protecting someone other than yourself.

I have successfully settled in to a new apartment. I have two room mates. I have bills to pay, a job I enjoy(ish) and food in the fridge. I have friends and family who love me, more video games than I have time to play, and any number of cats to cuddle with should the need arise. Five months ago I would never have believed I’d ever be happy again.

I’m happy to be wrong.

I dyed my hair purple; I wasn't happy with dark brown. Too normal. Not me.
I dyed my hair purple; I wasn’t happy with dark brown. Too normal. Not me. The drink is called Viniq: a mix of Vodka and Moscato,and magic.

At first, I blamed an emotional disruption for The Burning City halting in it’s tracks. It was true that my life had spiraled out of control–but even now that I’ve maintained it, my story hasn’t come back to me yet. So I had to reconsider: what stopped my story? What fell short? And after a while, I realized that I had lost sight of where I wanted the story to go, ultimately. My outline had run dry. My plot line became cloudy.

My solution was to begin with a running outline. I can’t recall what writing book I picked up the concept from, but it’s basically this: as you read through your manuscript, write down the events that happen. Simple, a few lines each. An alternative method is to copy and paste the first and last paragraph of each chapter to try and keep track of what happened. That was too vague for me.

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I printed off a chapter at a time. As I read it, I wrote in a small notebook. I took some character notes but mostly plot points, so I could reacquaint myself with my characters and story. I needed to see where I stopped loving the story.

Eventually I started typing my  notes in to the computer, and highlighted the parts that were the most relevant.

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I changed it a little when I re-typed my notes, I color-coded sections to make it easier for me to read. Blue for plot, purple for plot considerations.

I had a cat assistant at some point, but she wasn't overly helpful. (Artemis asleep behind my monitor.)
I had a cat assistant at some point, but she wasn’t overly helpful. (Artemis asleep behind my monitor.)

The Plan for June and July

So now you know what I’ve been doing: getting reacquainted with the story and finding out that I need to make changes. What’s the next step? The obvious answer is: writing. But the not-so-obvious part to non-writers, is that it isn’t that simple. It sounds simple. It isn’t.

Step 1: Make a new outline for The Burning City with the new information discovered/created during the re-reading phase
Step 2: Make a list of scenes and plot points that I want to write about.
Step 3: Use July and CampNaNoWriMo to write 25,000 words towards The Burning City to make up for lost time!

Do I think I have 25,000 words on the back burner? Yes. Maybe not all new words (some may come from re-writing scenes) but I believe I have enough of a new story to do it in the month of July.

What Do You Need From Us?

What do I need from you? Understanding. I don’t even need support, I know I have it: I just need everyone to be a bit patient as I scrape up my story entrails back in to a jar and shake them up. These things take time, and the story will be better for it. Feel free to re-read the story from my Chapter 1 draft, or hop over to my Facebook page and give me some love. Otherwise, I’ll see you next month some time!

But if you want to support me financially, which is always awesome: remember that I make 1 1/2″ pin-back buttons for a stupidly cheap amount of money.

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Tell Michelle what you think!