As I wrote recently, I recently spent an evening plotting out my story all the way to the end, scene by scene. I did this to give myself a feeling of direction and, if I’m honest with myself, to put off writing a draft that seemed interminable.
But I am so freaking glad that I did it. I always hated the idea of doing scene outlines before because it seemed to take all of the joy out of writing. Like, rather than experiencing the story, you were just recording it, and that seemed like work rather than fun. But ooh boy, was I wrong.
When I wrote the first two scenes that I had plotted out, I had the palpable feeling that my story was rushing toward the big, awesome conclusion. Rather than thinking that I would probably end somewhere around 120,000 words, I now had a definite end, and a series of discrete steps to get there. That alone was worth the two hours I spent planning.
There was a secondary benefit too, perhaps less surprising than the first. I discovered that my scenes were actually more interesting than before because I was able to place them in a better context. I knew what had happened, as always, but I also knew specifically what I wanted to do and that meant that a lot of “gosh, what next” problems just didn’t crop up.
Oh, and I can finally stop judging my writing time in terms of word count, and start judging it in terms of scenes. I’ve found that’s had the benefit of keeping me from subconsciously dragging out my scenes to extract every last word I could from them. That’s perhaps a NaNoWriMo habit I’ve picked up that I should try to get rid of.
I could end up eating these words later, but I’m still not a huge fan of the idea of writing every scene for the entire novel before I’ve even started drafting. At the very least, taking the first quarter or so of the novel to just get to know the story, setting, and characters is important to me, and for my next novel I’m fairly certain that I’ll start that way again. I can always get to the nitty gritty later.
Then again, I’ve been wrong before.
Pretty accurate for a brand new program – this picture is taken from a ship, not a helicopter. The spacecraft splashed down less than a mile from its projected point of re-entry. The cheese was unharmed by the water impact.