As I mentioned, I have been (or was) writing a book loosely based on my own experiences. I worked on it avidly for the first six months, then it sat and stagnated for about a year. When I tore into again, I made a ton of progress, getting to about 75% completion or so. Unfortunately, that’s when I hit a roadblock; the progress stopped. I’d come to a point in either plot or characterization where I couldn’t figure out where to go next. I’d known how I wanted my book to start, how I wanted the “meat” to taste, but I couldn’t figure out how to wrap it all up.
And so it stagnated again, for another year.
For the past month or two, I’ve gone back to the proverbial drawing board. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to use what I’d written or not and decided to prepare myself for the very likely scenario where I’d throw everything I’d written out and start completely over. The first thing I had to do was reacquaint myself with my main character (or MC as it’s commonly abbreviated). I outlined him from the ground up, inside and out; his strengths, weaknesses, quirks, common sayings and expressions, things he frequently thinks about, his background, his future. Everything.
From there, I re-outlined my book. I started with general, loose descriptions of basic plot points, and then specified from there. For the past few days, I worked on a detailed, chapter by chapter outline that’s going to serve as my blueprint for the book.
I’m thrilled that I decided to start over. It was disheartening at first because I’d already logged so much time and put so much energy and emotion into the original manuscript, but this needed to be done. Rather than sit and wait for writer’s block to cure itself, I did what I could do to overcome it and made myself a more detailed plan for the book. If I can extract excerpts from the original manuscript that’s great, but as of right now I’m considering my first go at writing my book a practice run.
On the even-brighter side, my character’s voice will now be much more consistent, his development much more natural, and I have a much clearer concept of plot, the sequence in which events need to happen, and how it all ties together.
I’m not sure if I mentioned before that my book could end one of two ways, but if I haven’t, I’ll explain: In the prologue when you first meet my character, he’s severely depressed. His life has recently changed dramatically, and just when he’s accepted that things can finally go right for him, it all come crashing down, and he just can’t take it. So he decides to kill himself. Then the first chapter backtracks to before all this happened to him, when he was just an unsuspecting pessimist complacent with a life of little meaning in which things that can go wrong usually do go wrong.
So obviously, the book can end one of two ways: My MC can either go through with the suicide, or not. Because of the planning-fest I’ve just had, I have a very clear idea of how each way would go, but I’m waiting until I get to the end of the book to see which path seems most natural before I commit.
The reason I’m putting this in writing here on my blog is because, now that I’ve put this out in the open, I’m more likely to stick to my current plan, which is (tentatively) to have the first draft of my manuscript finished by October 1st. As I post this blog, I’ve begun writing out the first chapter (not the prologue yet) so I can get an idea of how long writing a chapter will take. Once I finish a chapter, I may amend that date a bit to be either a little earlier or a little later. I’m thinking the finished product will be between 27 and 36 chapters, depending on how many flashbacks there will be and how much background information is necessary to best serve the story.
This is a very exciting breakthrough for me! This book, confined to my brain and seemingly serving a life sentence there since several years ago, is finally looking like it will come to complete fruition, and soon! I will probably post the first chapter as a sample once I get it finished because it’s essentially like an introduction to my character and his voice, which (hopefully) will come across somewhat like my own: Sarcastic, somewhat cynical, kind of thoughtful, and observant. I want to get an idea pretty early whether or not my character is too flawed to be likeable so that I can make the necessary changes before I get very deep into it.
Well, off I go! Wish me luck!