Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ideas In Abundance

I'm trying to get started on the second draft of Warrior's Legacy. Warrior's Legacy was the first book-length writing project that I'd finished in, I don't know, quite a number of years. It was written over the course of about two years, during what I thought was a very busy time in my life. Of course, I now have a three-year-old boy, so that seems pretty funny in retrospect.

The first draft was not awful - at least, I don't think so - but it was written as a serial. That is to say, I'd write a chapter, proof it and get feedback, clean it up, and write the next chapter. As a result, it has some problems with pacing - the story sort of wanders, and some of the setup pieces take too long, and some of the dramatic moments don't get as much time as they should. Also, and perhaps more important, I just tried to do too much with it. It's hard to keep the plot moving if you keep stopping to introduce some neat new element to the story. (This would have been fine if I'd been writing an open-ended comic book, where I could just keep coming back to things that interest me. For a novel, not so much.)

...But that's fine. That's basically what first drafts are for. Subsequent drafts are where you clean up those problems, tune up the pacing, and make sure everything fits the way it's supposed to. There's only one problem: I can't seem to finish the second draft.

Hell, I can't even seem to start the second draft. I have, at last count, at least seven versions of the first chapter rewrite. One of them made it all the way to chapter three. When it actually became frustrating, I moved on to other projects.

Now, as you've probably guessed, I'm trying again. This time, instead of just leaping in, I'm trying to figure out exactly what I want to do with the book. Ideally, I'll actually create an outline to work from; but at this point I'd settle for a list of the six main scenes that I need to include.

To do that, I've started using Freemind. This is a rather nifty little piece of software that basically allows you to draw associations on the screen - they call it "mind-mapping" software. You can drop things into it, too: other files, images, links... You can also tag the various items on the map, for example to mark items of particular importance.

Anyway, I've been composing a map of all the cool stuff that went into the original story - just the major elements, because I'd like to be finished before the world ends in 2014. This has actually been very helpful in terms of looking at just how much I was trying to cram in to one book... and yes, it's waaaaaay too much.

The current plan is to flag the critical elements, think about how they fit together, and decide on the important scenes and (at least) a vague direction for the plot. A list of story arcs might not be a bad idea, either. Mainly, though, I just want to have a list which says, You will include this much and no more.

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