You know how I am always going on about how I have plot holes I am trying to figure out a way around? I have now written almost 79,000 words of my novel, and I'm nearing the climax. And my writing has been at a crawl for the last few weeks, because I am trying to sort out all the plot complications and a smooth resolution to everything, and I am... just... &**%#@!!.... stuck! Like, I know there is a way out of this. I always figure out a way, even if it means going back to do a bit of rewriting.
But I am unhappy when my fan fiction has a bit of a hand-wavey feel to it, and fan fiction readers are pretty forgiving. I'm not saying I care less about the quality of my fan fiction than I do about this novel, but it has to be something that will pass the less lenient standards of agents, publishers, and Amazon book reviewers, ya know? So I have to be convinced that it's solid, even before I'd think about sending it out for critique.
And I am really good at seeing plot holes. Sometimes plot holes that other people say don't exist.
So, today, instead of flicking back and forth between an open document (that sits there mocking me because I haven't done much more than rearrange a few sentences) and the ever-luring endless abyss of the Internet (I seriously need to figure out a way to discipline myself to write on a computer with no Internet access), I did something I rarely do except at the beginning stage of my writing projects, and sat down to try outlining the rest of the book.
There are basically two kinds of writers: outliners and improvisers (or "seat-of-the-pantsers"). Outliners are good at working out the details of their plot before they even start writing. Some work up a very, very thorough outline that details every last character and plot twist before they even start writing. I once saw Vernor Vinge's outline for A Fire Upon the Deep and was in awe — it looked like source code for an operating system. Others are a bit looser, and use the outline just as a framework, to be freely changed and added to or ignored.
Stephen King, on the other hand, is notoriously a seat-of-the-pantser. He begins with an idea, and then just starts typing, and by his own admission, halfway through the book he usually still has no idea how it will end. (One might argue that this shows in his endings.)
I am a bit of a hybrid. I find outlines useful to get started, but then I mostly ignore them. But I have often found that when I am stuck, sitting down to outline again helps me a great deal. So why don't I do it more often? I don't know! Probably the same reason I can't unplug my router while writing so that I don't keep getting distracted by the !@%*$^%! Internet.
So anyway, I think I have kinda sorta worked out the end of my book, though I know it will undergo changes and improvisations and "Oh shit, wait a minute, I forgot about..."
I really, really want to bring this one to completion. Not just so I can start on AQATWA (yeah, yeah) but because it will be the first time I've finished something (theoretically) publishable. And I can go on to the next stage, which is revising, then getting mean, nasty brutal critiques from other writers, and then trying to query and all that, and maybe getting all my silly delusions about being publishable shattered. 'Cause like I've said before, it's one thing to know you're better than most fan fiction writers and think maybe you're good enough be published, and another to actually prove it.
I am also periodically assailed by other doubts besides just those concerning my writing ability. My book is nothing like what's currently hot in the SF or YA market. It will probably be labeled as YA even though I haven't explicitly written it as a YA novel. I don't know if there is a market for it. So I'm already jumping past "Everyone I submit it to rejects it" and wondering if I'll just trunk it or shrug and put it up on Smashwords and Amazon, figuring that even if self-publishing is the last refuge of the unpublishable, at least a few people might read it. I mean, let's be real, I have no expectations that I will make money with this book. Even if it gets published by a major publisher, the odds of it being a bestseller are teeny-teeny-tiny-infinitesimal. Now, being published by a real publisher would mean I'll make some money, but definitely not quit-your-day-job money. So it really is about love of writing and wanting to be read.
(Although, y'know, money would be nice...)
I have set a firm upper bound of 100K words for the first draft. This isn't fan fiction where you can just say "Oh, 240K words? No problem, people will mostly read it serially anyway." A debut novel (especially a YA debut novel) cannot get away with being over 100K words unless your prose drips rainbows and Krugerrands. 100K words is long for YA. So I'm assuming my first draft will have to be pared down, which means an absolute maximum of 100K words as a starting point is a must.
Anyway, must... buckle... down and get this MF finished.
Yeah, writing this post was yet another way to distract myself.