I wrote Hedi’s Book of Rules totally by the seat of my pants–no outlines beyond a few index cards to remind me of the general direction. Blithely, I plowed my way through to the end of my urban fantasy, inserting tags like “go back and add this” at the end of each chapter. It’s a writing techique that requires a lot of looping backwards to fix things. Sort of like visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art without a map. You know there are exhibits you just have to see, but you find yourself in a different wing, fascinated by something else. Time flies and the next thing you know you’re booting it to the Van Gogh five minutes before the museum closes.
However, I’ve got a deadline for the next book, and a moral obligation to anyone who reads Hedi book #1 to meet that date. I don’t have time for a lot of back-tracking. Clearly, this time, I need to outline. Matter of fact, I’m so committed to the concept, that I’ve done it twice.
Well, not completely by choice. The first time was in late winter, after I’d given my newly revised Hedi’s Book of Rules (HBR) manuscript to the fabulous Deidre Knight. I knew it would take some time for her to process it, and then sell it, so I used that time wisely. I threw myself into world-building and plotting. In a couple of weeks, I had a basic plot for books 2 and 3, and a fat file of world-building notes.
See? I was industrious. The daffs bloomed while my plot grew.
But, remember when I said editing and revision is part of being a writer? Well, my editor Holly, at St. Martin’s Press, thought I should add a chapter to HBR. I’ve done so, and I agree with her. It was a good idea. However, revealing this aspect of Hedi’s world was something I was planning to do in the next book. Boom. There went the plot-lines for books 2 & 3.
I’m back beavering away at outlines again. I’m not alone in this. Meet Gibby, my writing crit partner.
Gibby demands little. Food. Water. Soft blanket and pillows. A few endearments here and there. He observes my progress with keen interest.
Just before he took another nap, he made the astute comment, “Stop wasting time looking at the flowers by your monitor. Turn off the itunes. Get back to work.” Then he collapsed. A short, fat, black dog can only do so much.