As I figured, I only got about two hundred words written in “The Winds of Patwin County” today, and only a paragraph done on the outline for The Outer Darkness. I don’t mind all that much, though, because the two hundred words for “Winds” were two hundred pretty good words, and the paragraph for the outline was a useful paragraph, more or less.
With “Winds”, I now have a strong sense of where the story is going. I know what the central event is, who’s responsible for it, and what’s going to happen at that event. Oddly, it’s an idea which first occurred to me about three and a half years ago, and which has been festering in my brain ever since. I don’t yet know what role some of the other characters have to play in the story yet, but I know that they’re important ones. I’m looking forward to seeing how the story works out.
I know that I should start revising “Variations on a Theme” soon, as well. Unfortunately, I was so disenchanted with how that story turned out in its first draft that I just can’t bring myself to look at it. Not yet. I think I’ll wait until after I’m done with “Winds”.
The outline for The Outer Darkness is proceeding apace. I have three main characters in development, possibly four. I also have an idea of the Big Thought that the novel is Really About. Unfortunately, there are at this point three different storylines, and I’m not entirely certain how I’m going to resolve them into one. I’m not yet an experienced enough novelist to try a subtle interweaving of the three stories. I have the feeling that as I continue to develop this outline, though, these things will resolve.
Stephen King, in his book On Writing, says that he doesn’t like using outlines. Worse, he says that outlines are for wannabe English professors. I think he’s right to a point. The outline I’m writing isn’t so much an outline — it’s certainly not broken down into a step-by-step description of what’s going to happen when. It’s more of a treatment; right now it’s nine pages long, and I think it will be about fifteen pages long when I’m done with it. Again, I’m excited to see how this novel turns out, though I know that there will be times when writing the words down will be like slogging through molasses.
Which is why, by the way, I’ve chosen to write the first 50,000 words of the first draft in November, during National Novel Writing Month. I’ve participated in that twice before, and I’ve written two complete (though crappy) novels because of it. The rules stipulate that you can’t use NaNoWriMo to write anything that is already in progress, though you can outline and plot as much as you like before November begins. So, I have a reason to wait, and I know that when November comes, I’ll be able to get the words down, even if they’re crappy words that will all have to come out later. And sometimes, just getting the words down is the most important and most difficult part.