Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Old journal entries--Sept. 7, 2007--Outline finished

Before I started posting to this blog, I kept some journal entries on paper--logs without the web. Some of those original pieces were never posted, and occasionally I circle back to post some of interest.

This one is a little discouraging to see since it's 7 months later now and I'm still working on basically the same problems I describe here.

September 7, 2007—Outline finished

This morning I finished the outline that I started a few weeks ago. It was tedious!

The result is 33 typed pages of notes on what the book is doing and not doing, broken out into action, character development and thematic development, chapter by chapter.

My intention next is just to study it and figure out how to address all the problems that became apparent during the process of outlining it. I’ll print it out, spread it out all out over the dining room table and start marking it up.

Roughly put, there are two major categories of effort needed next, I think.

One, I need to understand the characters a lot better—who they are in general, how they would feel at a given moment, and how they are changing. In a sense, I know all that; it was necessary to know that to write the first draft. But I don’t know it well enough to do the rewrite.

Two, I need to make a lot of decisions about what happens. What jackpots the characters are going to get into and then what they do, so that it leads to a conclusion.

Obviously, these two tasks are intimately related—what happens will depend on who the characters are and who the characters become will depend on what happens. But then, everything in a literary fiction is related. The story will succeed when I can create unity of action, character and theme. That’s from L. Rust Hills and a million other observers of this maddening endeavor.

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