Yesterday I was hit with a wave of anxiety as I stared at a massive project looming in front of me. I stopped working, ate lunch, then didn’t do anything writing wise the rest of the day. It’s all documented in this post.
I did, however, go to Office Max and pick up four notebooks — three composition notebooks and one notebook of graph paper. Character notes go into one notebook, setting notes go into a second notebook, and conflict/plot notes go into a third notebook. The graph paper is for any maps I might need to make. So far, it’s empty.
Today, I’ve been working on the outline. Not a bullet-point outline or a scene outline — not so formal — but what you might call a treatment. I started telling the story in a free-flowing way. I’m not worried about how many books there will be, or anything like that. I just want to get the story down. I’ve been moving back and forth between the three notebooks, focusing mostly on plot and conflicts, and creating characters and settings as I move through the treatment.
I’m trying to keep the process very creative, summarizing without going into detail, focusing on my hero’s motives, using Wilhelm’s Law to move beyond the cliches, not building too much, but, rather, trying to keep things very open-ended.
So far, it’s been great fun.
Why am I using pen and paper for this process?
I don’t really know myself. I was beginning to feel rather frustrated brainstorming on the computer. A computer document is a liner thing. You can’t draw lines between ideas, you can’t scribble in the margins, you can’t suddenly put a chart the document without formatting the damn thing to make it work — and even then it doesn’t work right — you can’t draw little maps, or anything like that. But old-fashioned pens and notebooks seems to provide the kind of flexible creativity that’s needed to outline/brainstorm a novel.
Now, back to work.