September 30, 2015

Fall Forward

Rain made an appearance today in the Bay Area, so it feels like an actual change of seasons as we head into October. My excitement is building for the fall literary events I wrote about last week. When I'm not too distracted by anticipation and precipitation, I've been busy with various projects, and I can report forward progress in several areas.

You may recall that in June I once again finished that novel I keep saying is done. You may have read the series of posts I made in August about how the latest revision led to a significantly shorter manuscript. You may wonder what's happening with that manuscript now. I've resumed sending query letters to agents, which means I tell them about THE EXTENT OF THE DAMAGE and share the opening pages in hopes that they'll be interested in reading more. I don't talk much about querying here because the process moves incredibly slowly, and there's nothing really to say about it until that glorious time when there might be something to say. But now you know that's in the works.

In that same June post, I also mentioned the novel I've been planning out in detail before writing, which is a new strategy for me. I reached a point in the outline where I discovered the plot was heading in a direction that didn't work, so I've returned to the beginning. A little at a time, I'm changing things around to make it all fit together better. Yes, I'm doing a revision of the planning stage and still haven't written a word of the actual novel. That means everything is going as intended, because so much less time and agony is involved in redoing an outline than in producing multiple drafts. I'll write this novel when it's ready, and in the meantime, finding the right version of the plot is satisfying and instructive.

That said, I've found myself itching to really write again, so I'm thinking of getting started on something else. It's been a while since I embarked on a first draft, with all the freedom and frustration that entails, and I could use the practice. Stay tuned.

This has nothing to do with writing unless I come up with a metaphor about stitching ideas together or something, but I've recently been spending a lot of time and attention on knitting after one of my occasional dormant periods with the hobby. (If you're a member of Ravelry, find me there.) Over a year ago, I finished knitting all the pieces of a sweater, and now in anticipation of cooler weather, I'm finally tackling the less fun work of assembling them. Yeah, there's definitely a metaphor in there somewhere.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Stephen Sparks at Literary Hub looks at novels written in invented dialects and some variations on this theme, "works that similarly inhabit languages unique to themselves, whether through dialect, an attempt at capturing the singular nature of consciousness, or in one case, unique because it is essentially alien."


Andrea Blythe said...

Yay for possible first drafts! I encourage this thing. :)

Jed Sabin said...

It's so interesting to hear you talk about revising outlines as if you expect people to be surprised at the idea. I can't fathom writing a novel without first revising the outline ten times.

Lisa Eckstein said...

Andrea: First draft is go! Yay, encouragement!

Julia: While I often come across people saying that they outline, and there's definitely much discussion of the plotter/pantser dichotomy, I feel like I haven't encountered a lot about what's actually involved in outlining and how it requires its own revision process. (I haven't explicitly looked for this, so I may just not have happened on these discussions.) So I do have the sense that what I'm doing might seem weird, particularly to non-writers. It even feels a little weird to me, so it's comforting to hear I'm not alone!

Jed Sabin said...

Here's some discussion of what's involved in outlining for me:

Henri Picciotto said...

I don't write novels, but outlining is the first step of any writing project for me. (Other projects too.) I outline, I revise the outline, until I'm ready to start writing. Yet, when I'm writing, the result rarely matches the outline exactly. Outlining just helps me get started, and also serves as a checklist of sort in case I forget things when doing the actual writing.

Lisa Eckstein said...

Julia: Awesome, thank you! I love reading about other writers' processes!

Henri: Yeah, I've definitely made plenty of outlines and then deviated from them, which usually means I came up with an improvement to what I originally conceived of and that the outline was an important brainstorming step. Sometimes it's alarming to go off in another direction because it means I may end up somewhere different than planned, and then, like you, I find myself using the outline as a sort of checklist for pieces I might still need to include.

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