July 30, 2009
Punishing heat in Eugene in the past few days has really limited my productivity, and I was sick for a day and visited my brother’s place for a day before that, which didn’t help.
Other than that I’ve been making some limited progress on my outline. I’m still trying to get a handle on outlining detective stories. I’m trying to find the right balance between leaving threads hanging too long and having the flow be too obvious and linear, where one dead end simply leads directly to a new lead.
July 19, 2009
I haven’t made a ton of progress on my new outline. Part of that has been laziness, which has been exacerbated by the heat in Eugene over the past few days.
Another problem is that I realized trying to outline a detective story in a linear manner is kind of dumb. I had some ideas for red herrings, etc., that I wanted to include in the story, but once I decided who the killer was some of those things didn’t make much sense. For example, early in the story I wanted to have the detective see through a false clue that the killer planted, in order to establish the detective’s credibility as an investigator. I think this will work for the story, but the problem is that I didn’t have any characters in the story that the clue, if not seen through, would implicate. From the killer’s perspective, the frame job needs to point to some one, even if the frame job isn’t successful in the actual narrative. I realized that I needed to take a step back and lay out the killer’s plan before I try to wrap a story around solving the crime. In retrospect that’s kind of an obvious point, but it didn’t occur to me until my outline started going off the rails.
July 12, 2009
I got some notes from my brother and his wife on my first novel, which is very cool. I’m also still working through it a few chapters a week with my friend who is also a writer. We’re about two thirds of the way through. I’ve started thinking about some things I can do to improve it, but I don’t want to start a full revision pass until I’ve gathered all of her feedback, since I want to get it all done in one go. Based on our current schedule that should take another five or six weeks.
I also want to give myself some time away from my second novel, so that I can start the editing pass with fresh eyes. It’s only been three weeks, and I think I need to let it sit for a while longer before I’m ready to go on that. I’m not 100% happy with the ending, which is something I suspected would happen back at the outline phase. I probably should have worked harder back then to make sure it would all work out.
Since I can’t work on either of the first two right now, I’ve been thinking about ideas for a third novel. I had some interesting setting and situation ideas, but I was having trouble coming up with characters or a plot that would work, so I shelved that and started brainstorming. I came up with some new ideas that dovetailed nicely with the idea that I scrapped in lieu of the second novel. I think the new direction will make the thing work.
My first two novels have lots of POV characters and every plot development happens “on screen”. The new idea I have works more like a detective story, and I ought to be able to follow a single character POV for the entire narrative. I think that will be a good exercise for me in terms of improving my writing. I’m not sure if I’m going to go with the first or third person yet. I think I’ve got enough ideas brainstormed to make the whole thing work, and I’ve started working on the outline today.