Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Hundred Pages

Yesterday my First Reader read the 100 pages I’ve done.  I got a resounding yes.  FR is very honest and would never steer me wrong.  I’m more than pleased about this.  I almost can’t believe I did it.  Especially using the method I did.

I’m taking a week away from it.  I have to do some reading and since I have no deadline I can do what I want.

I need to think about where I’m going next and how to get there.  I’m heading into Act Two now which is always the hardest.  Of course I’m thinking about the three act play.  That’s the way it used to be.  The well-made play had three acts.  I don’t know when it changed to two. 

No more picking titles out of the wooden box. I have my cast and I have their goals.  I even have a few tricks up my sleeve.  But I don’t know everything nor would I want to.  I read yesterday that neither Elmore Leonard nor Donald Westlake knows the end of a novel when he starts.  That made me feel great because, those of you who have been reading this blog from the beginning, know that I have no idea either.  Believe me, I’m not comparing myself to either of these men.  But it’s nice to know I’m not insane.

Last year when I was having trouble with Too Darn Hot a lot of writers talked about writing outlines and how they couldn’t do a book without one.  I’m just the opposite.  I’d rather do almost anything rather than write an outline or a synopsis.  So it was terrific to read that about two heavyweights in the crime writing business.



Rob Gregory Browne said...

I'm with you on the no outline thing. I hate writing them and refuse to do it. If I'm going to write an outline, I might as well not write the book. All the gas would be gone...

Unknown said...

To paraphrase Joni Mitchell, I've looked at plots, from both sides now. With The Wheelman I totally winged it, from start to finish. Everytime I tried to plot, the damned thing shut down on me. It wanted to be spontaneous.

But with my next novel, I wrote 6,000 words and realized that if I didn't plot, I'd be in deep trouble. So I spent a week mapping out every minute, and I'm thankful I did. (I don't think I would have finished it without an outline.) And this didn't take the fun out of it, because getting from point, say, P to Q still took quite a bit of improvisation.

Maybe books are like kids. What works with one child doesn't necessarily work with another.

Sandra Scoppettone said...

I hear you and that might be true for you but I don't think it's ever going to be true for me. I've written 20 books now and I've never written an outline. Partly because I feel the way Rob (above) does and partly because I really don't know how to write one. Even thinking about it makes me squirm.

When is the outlined book coming out?

Unknown said...


The next one, THE BLONDE, is due in November.

Maybe this makes no difference at all, but my "outline" was really nothing more than notes to myself. Stuff like, "Okay, punk--at this point, you need to have X run across town, hail a cab, then comb his hair with his fingers while humming a Kelly Clarkson song." There's no way I'd ever show this "outline" to another human being (and definitely not my editor), but it kept the storylines in place for me.

The concept is also a little weird, so the outline assured me that it all would probably (we'll see in November, I guess...) work.

Sandra Scoppettone said...

I definitely don't call that an outline. I make notes, too. Not quite what a character should do and when, but my own kind of notes. Character traits. Or something that might happen. Or inclusions I mustn't forget.

I was thinking more of the type of outline you have to hand in to an editor. Hateful. You're not writing an outline, I don't think.

Do you know how everything winds up?

I anxiously await The Blonde.

Unknown said...

It's funny: I thought I knew how everything ended up. But as it turned out, the ending in the final draft was very different from what I'd originally planned.

So I guess there was still that element of improvisation at work.