This Always Happens

Sprint006 plan by J
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  J’Roo 

This always happens.

I fully intended to post this during NaNoWriMo, but . . . somewhere in the shuffle, I forgot about it until last week . . . and then it was Christmas. So here I am a couple of days after Christmas posting something I intended to post on November 7th.


I had to put my current novel on hold for NaNoWriMo because I simply couldn’t think too much about it and do 26 stories at the same time. But someone posted a link to a video on YouTube that distracted me for several hours during NaNoWriMo, and may have directly contributed to the fact that the story I wrote on November 7th (“G Is for Gravesite”) was the shortest (finished) story of the bunch.

This is the video. I created a playlist of all five parts. It’s Dan Wells‘ presentation at BYU’s Life, the Universe, and Everything writing symposium on February 13, 2010. It is his seven-point outlining scheme.

(For some reason, WordPress refuses to let me embed a playlist. I’m working on it. For now, this is the first of the five videos.)

So I watched this, and was pretty much overcome with the desire to use this to figure out exactly what the plot(s) is(are) for my novel Perdition’s Flames. Not to mention the other novels in the same series. Maybe if I can figure out the seven points of the first one, I can come up with the seven points of others, as well.

It came as quite a surprise to me when I sat down to actually do this that I already knew exactly what each of the seven points was going to be for the plot of the novel. Not so much for subplots and character arcs. Those I still need to work on.

This always happens. I find yet another reason to stop writing and start over. I think perhaps what I’ll do instead is to continue writing and use this for the rewrite. There are only a few more scenes, really, and I already know what has to happen in them. I don’t have any subplots, and two of my characters have kind of disappeared, but hey. That’s what rewrites are for, right? :)

I keep searching for useful tools to help me plot and plan. Truth is, it’s all in my head, but every time I try to put it on paper (figuratively or literally), I end up frustrated. One of these days I’m going to find a useful tool, dammit! :)

it’s  a big machine by gin_able, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  gin_able 

NaNoWriMo is now officially over. I wrote 122,408 words between midnight on November 1st and midnight on November 30th.

The title of this post (and the awesome image) is in reference to a quote my housemate often uses to explain why every short story she writes turns into a novel. “I just can’t write anything short. My machinery is too big.”

I think I might have a touch of the same problem. A lot of the stories I worked on for NaNoWriMo this year got a little out of hand, length-wise, turning into novelettes, novellas, or worse. Well, ‘worse’ is probably a bit strong . . .

But my express purpose this year was to focus on short stories. And only two completed ones—”G Is for Gravesite” and “U Is for Unicorn Power Imblance”—were under 3000 words. While that may still qualify as “short” by some definitions, my inspiration for doing this were all these 250-, 300-, and 350-word flash pieces that I’ve done for the Second Life writing group, The Quillians.

When I thought about the plots of the stories I planned out before November, I could not conceive of any of them being longer than a couple of thousand words. The ideas seemed simple. Easy to write.

But another thing I have learned from NaNoWriMo this year—in addition to the things I iterated in the last two NaNoWriMo update posts—is simply this: A story is as long as a story needs to be.

That sounds simplistic, but it’s hard to let go of a length when you set out to write a story of 2000 words and you end up with something 10,000 words or more. Granted, a lot of that 10,000 words will be edited out, but still.

Basically, what it means to me is that two stories took just a few words to tell. Gravesite came in at 2204 and Unicorn at just 1826. But I told the stories I wanted to tell. Each of them has a beginning, middle, and end. They resolve. They have one or more of Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event.

Others are not even close to being finished at 6,000, 10,000 or even 12,000 words. (No, I didn’t write all of any of those on a single day.)

And both of those are OK. Really.

My next step is to edit some of these, finish the others, and to take apart the novel I’m in the midst of and . . . fix problems. The next post will explain that last comment. :)

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