The rollercoaster

Every morning when I sit down to pound out on my current Work In Progress, I’ve been checking in with where I am in this story.

I am historically terrible when it comes to outlining. As in, I never did it.

Previously, this was how I planned a story:

-Idea, then at some point, This will happen…then thing 2….then thing 3 and…I’ll figure it out from there!

Welcome to the chaos that has been my writing process since, I dunno, forever.

It used to work. I could write 50 or 60 pages on an idea unbroken for days, just me and a piece of paper that I would add to until I was done.

It was always a matter of, “Well, that was fun, what else?” with no real focus on structure or story. The result was that I’d have these long and boring stretches of my characters talking to themselves until I’d come up with an interesting bit of dramatic imagery or action. Then…it would meander until I got frustrated and ran off with a new idea to repeat the same cycle.

My other major barrier has been that after I work on an idea for a few weeks, I’d get frustrated or distracted and quit trying. Then, it would be months before I picked it back up, and what do you know, the cycle continued.

Until this year. Here I sit, over three months of solid work in on the same manuscript. I’m pleased.

So, this month, it seems like I’ve been focusing on learning Structure and How To Outline.

In 2014 at a DragonCon Panel, I asked Jim Butcher, one of my all time favorite writers for pacing, how the heck he did it. How, Mr. Butcher, do you get your scene and sequel to remain to tight in your novels?

He told me that he imagined his story as a rollercoaster, building up on itself, each scene moving the car a little farther up towards the top of the ride, and then just let the momentum and tension push it towards the end, an end that he always has firmly in mind.

So I ask myself when I sit down to do the words, “Where am I on the rollercoaster?”




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