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how to write a book (outline) in 30 days

how to write a book (outline) in 30 days

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This is a public service announcement that some of you may hopefully find useful :)

You know I never update my journal, but due to the fact that yours truly is stuck at a tiny railway station in the middle of... not much, save for some Greek temples she has already seen before missing her train and settling down for a 2+ hour wait, I figured I'd share my today's findings off the Guardian page. As a caveat, this relates to novel-length stuff and outlines a *possible* approach, but by no means *the* approach - I know at least two brilliant people among you who do just the opposite with great results. For my part, I was pleasantly surprised at how much of what I had arrived at on my own was validated here, though at times it seems, even to me, a bit too structured and didactically prescriptive. Still, there are certainly pearls of wisdom in it. The 30 days refer to just the outline, not the finished thing.

The framework intro is here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/oct/20/writing-your-novel-30-days-method

The brainstorming bit is here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/oct/20/brainstorming-book-ideas

and the series main page with the rest broken down into days (parts 1 and 4 have further day-by-day breakdowns) http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/how-to-write-a-book-in-30-days

  • Thanks for the links (which I haven't read but have stored away for future reference). One year, just possibly, I might get up the necesssary ooomph to have a go at NaNoWriMo, when this sort of information might come in handy.
    • You're welcome :)
      You are, of course, one of those two brilliant authors, Lizzy being the other, who do just the opposite with great success. But there are still interesting points about brainstorming and working out the background details etc.

      For all my structured approach to writing, the idea of NaNoWriMo leaves me completely cold; I find it too formalistic to be of interest. But I suppose it is the only way the random and disorganised efforts of thousands of fic writers can be put on a more or less comparable standing and given something resembling a common goal...
      • Thanks, sweetie. I'm pretty certain NaNoWriMo won't be for me (not that I've looked into it), but I am a bit tempted by the idea/challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month, or at least the bare bones of it, just as an exercise. As to whether I could do the plotting stuff, I have no idea, having never done it before, other than in the vaguest of ways. I did try to plot the final few chapters of Endgame but gave it up as a bad job when it became clear that my characters had no intention of following that plot. It's only now, as I am nearing the end of the story, that I pretty much know where I'm going (I think!). Still, I shall read the articles some time, as I'm always interested in finding out about other ways of doing things even if I have no intention of doing them myself.

        I trust you enjoyed your 'mini break' from The Fic but are now eager to get on with the next chapter?
        • as I am nearing the end of the story


          I am a bit tempted by the idea/challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month

          I've now done it with Boxes (not complete, but I *have* written 60+ K in a month). It takes a case of getting completely obsessed with a plot, and, I readily admit, the absence of inviolable demands on my time from family members... and a major reduction of sleeping hours ;)

          As for the next chapter and eagerness, the irony is, I am now in need of someone to stand over me with a loaded weapon to get me back to it ;) ...for two reasons.

          First, the point I was frantically working toward is the point it is now at. Everything else, from my point of view, is not as tense or exciting or significant as this past chapter; hence my desperate impatience is no longer there.

          And second, as of last Friday, another reader successfully tipped me over into plotting a second (short, 25-30K) sequel - which I did not expect to the tune of having written (and now having to ditch) a long endnote explaining why I *wouldn't* write one ;) - so I am now "living" in that one already, plotting and imagining and polishing my outline, and view typing up the last four chapters of Boxes, which are already exhaustively outlined in my notes, as something of a chore. But I do need to get them out there, and they have some highlights that will hopefully make typing them up enjoyable.
          • Ah yes, that's the trouble when you write a good fic - people want more! And, of course, once you get your head into that follow-up fic the present one can begin to feel like something you just want to get out of the way, a chore in effect. Luckily for you, you have those extensive notes so I guess that means the actual writing of the thing won't give you too much of a headache.
            • The blackberry wouldn't let me respond yesterday, but the next chapter is all done as of this mrning and will be posted shortly.

              It was almost too easy to talk me into writing first Boxes post-Catching Up, and now the next one, Plus ça Change, post-Boxes, which I suppose is a measure of how much I still want to stay in this universe. Then again, it does bring a welcome symmetry; rather than having a mismatched short fic + long fic pair, I'll have a Nolanesque trilogy, with two shorter bookends at either end and a long middle part :)

              Thing is, my notes for the rest of it are so detailed by now, it takes the creative element out. I've lived in this story for a month and jumped at a chance to delve into a new one (to the point of having finished the first chapter on top of drafting the outline) once I was past its subjective high point. But I'll get on with it. I have decided to go to Lugano for the four-day long weekend we have next week, and I hope to be done with Boxes by the time I get to the real life sites of the Carona villa and the San Salvatore restaurant ;) (and yes, I *am* staying at the Principe Leopoldo, if only for one night as it was fully booked for the next one!)

              • Thing is, my notes for the rest of it are so detailed by now, it takes the creative element out.
                I think this is one of the reasons why I tend to write the way I do: I am as excited and curious about what's going to happen next as my readers (hopefully) are.

                Your trip sounds fun. Have a fantastic time if we don't *speak* before then.
                • It is a function of our approach and of where each of us has the most fun: the bulk of my fun is in constructing and thinking through and playing with the plot, the writing being the bonus; whereas you enjoy the writing process in full as such.

                  And thanks! I hope the weather holds up, but am determined to enjoy it regardless.
                  • As long as we're both having fun, that's the main thing!

                    Just went to read ch20 of Boxes but saw it was a long chapter and I don't have time now as I have to leave the house very shortly, so will look forward to reading it later. However, I will just mention that I was the guest who correctly guessed the nature of Selina's injuries: I forgot to sign in.
                    • :D I wouldn't have guessed it was you, but you totally saw through my cunning wording games there ;)

                      No hurry, it'll be there when you are back. I had no idea how long it would end up being - sometimes plot outlines *are* confusing that way, I write two sentences and they end up being two pages!
  • You know I never update my journal, but due to the fact that yours truly is stuck at a tiny railway station in the middle of... not much, save for some Greek temples she has already seen before missing her train and settling down for a 2+ hour wait,

    ...And this is precisely the reason why you NEED to update your journal sometimes - you can't put out this delicious snippet and just leave it there!

    Where are you? What Greek temples? Sorry, I love history of all sorts and it sounds fascinating. Are you making a side-trip while on business? Are you on a vacation/holiday? Please I want to know about this trip!

    Travelling is relevant to my interests. And yes, it is one of many things we share in common. :D
    • Actually, I am very much in Italy still. I had a very packed travel schedule this past summer from late May through mid-September (mostly long-weekend holidays plus short business trips and three week-long getaways) - it was incredibly fun, but then I took it easy for a month and stayed in Rome (also had something to do with my brain being eaten... more on that in a bit); so far, most recent work has been Rome-based. This was the first day trip I took out of Rome since mid-September, to a place called Paestum, the most important ancient Greek colony in mainland Italy (most are in Sicily). It eventually swore allegiance to Rome, and a Roman town grew up around the Greek site. The most notable features there now are three Greek temples; I saw pictures of those ages ago and wanted to see them for years - and finally figured I'd take advantage of the great weather and do it. It is more or less a full-day trip from Rome because of the four-hour one-way train ride (in fact they are 1.5 hours south of Naples); if it were closer I would have thought of going back, but as it is, I am glad I've seen it; it is not a stunning site, but very peaceful, and the temples *are* beautiful. I forgot to bring my memory card into the office, so am pasting a bunch of links instead;

      aerial view
      two bigger temples
      at sunset
      another angle
      third, smaller temple

      Living in the middle of history as I am, I wish you could come visit. Rome alone is worth a few days, and then you have Ostia Antica, Villa Adriana in Tivoli, the "Roman ships" at Nemi, and plenty of other things. I know you are busy enough, but if you ever think of coming to Europe and Italy, give me a shout. I expect to be in Rome for the foreseeable future.

      My daily life is an unbalanced pattern of fairly boring stuff and some fun stuff, mostly trips, and I err on the side of caution in not publicising it much to avoid spamming people with the boring part, sticking instead to fandoms, with few exceptions like my Roman parrots picspam a couple of years ago. Earlier this summer when LJ fun dried up I toyed with the idea of setting up a parallel LJ page for the highlights of my travel photos, starting from the old ones, but ran into the issues of (a) the good old ones being pre-digital and hence needing to be scanned, (b) generally being lazy and (c) eventually finding off-LJ things to play with, including a really unexpected and, I admit, slightly silly new fandom (The Dark Knight Rises) that had me write 85K words and counting in six weeks in a sort of euphoric frenzy, just after I thought, as of this past August, that my fic writing days were well over.

      On another subject, I am somewhat anxiously, thouhg not closely, following the US campaign and keeping my fingers very firmly crossed. Given my sources, with the Torygraph being a major one, I am hopefully seeing a somewhat biased picture that gives Romney a solid fighting chance, but I still hope that it does not happen! And I remember reading that Joe had a brilliant vice presidential debate :)

      Edited at 2012-10-25 11:01 am (UTC)
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