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A Novel Needs Different Things at Different Times
On plotting... again
Me and this plot, we are in a dance. The kind of cha-cha-cha where I keep walking away, only to get pulled back in.
At times it feels like this:
But most days it’s more like this:
A brief history has been documented here in this newsletter.
Plotting (January 2021)
Losing the Plot (March 2021)
The Return of the Plot (August 2021)
Outlining the Plot (October 2021)
It was shortly after that last one that I scrapped the whole draft and started over with a blank Scrivener file.
Now, once again, I’m working on an outline of the plot. Yes, it feels crazy, but I also can’t see a better next step.
This time, I’m doing it backward. I’m going through everything I’ve written, all these scenes that are all out of order, and I’m choosing an order. I’m dividing them up into chapters (each one a folder in the current Scrivener file), and as I go, I’m documenting the chapter in the outline. Just high-level notes on what happens and which characters are involved.
When this is done, my hope is that I’ll have a clearer picture of what’s missing — not just the beats but the emotional notes, where to ratchet up the tension.
Part of me fears I might just be giving myself busywork, but then another part believes that a novel needs different things at different times. I needed an idea of the plot at the beginning, and then I needed to throw it out. Now I need to recreate it again. Here goes!