Finally settling into the rhythm of writing the vampire novel. The d20 work continues, but baring the mutiny of my pirate crew, all that’s left is editing. Editing seems to engage different muscles than actual writing, so it shouldn’t infringe on the novel work.
Again, it’s still a long shot to sell the book, but that won’t keep me from writing a story that I’d love to read. If it sells, great. If not --- well you and I both know that I needed the practice.
One of the chief differences from my last novel writing adventure, is working from an outline. Each scene (I hope) is driving towards the book’s final goal. This is an elementary process, something I assume most professional writers do by force of habit, but it is new to me. The greatest payoff thus far, is that it makes it noticeably easier to write. My word count is up, I don’t spend a ton of time going over previous scenes, and my writing meanders less.
Again, elementary stuff, but if we’re going to talk about this process, I might as well be honest to my naivety. Then maybe you can avoid my missteps.
Prior to this experience, I mistakenly believed that constructing and adhering to an outline would limit the creative high I get from writing. This is how I write adventure modules, drawing the maps and writing the encounters without really having an idea of where I’m going. But modules are only 23k long or so, and they aren’t held to the same scrutiny as a novel, or even a short story.
But my experience freelancing with Wizards changed all that. The story I sold was set in the Forgotten Realms, a fantasy world, that some argue, has been recorded in more detail than some small, real world nations. Given the strictures of the assignment, and the previous work done by literally hundreds of other writers, I found myself in a very tight box.
To my delight and surprise this actually made it easier to be creative. Like a vine creeping and crawling its way through, beneath and over a wall, the story adhered to the world and, I hope, made it just a little more colorful in the process.
An outline can serve the same purpose. White Wolf’s new shared world, the “World of Darkness” setting, has less than a dozen sourcebooks so far. That’s like rewinding the Forgotten Realms setting back to 1992. As shared worlds go, the box is wide open, which can actually make it more
difficult to write. With everywhere to go, you end up wandering in circles, which is fine for your personal writing (like this blog), but lousy if you’re trying to create a novel that will hold a reader’s attention.
That’s where an outline shines. Rather than being handed strictures from on high, you are creating your own. Your writing is no less creative for the walls and obstacles you impose upon yourself, and --- in my case --- better for the intellectual terrain it has to overcome.
When I worked up at the Pingree mountain camp (see my last post), we had to clear forest that had been burnt in a fire. Wandering through the skeletal woods, I discovered that the trees that grew tallest and straightest, were the ones that had grown in dense groves. Without competition a pine is content to stay short. But the ones surrounded by other trees --- strictures and boundaries --- had to go big.
(I almost wrote “reach for the sky,” but that much schmatlz is toxic.)
Anyway. Thanks for reading. Hope you all are doing well and keeping creative. In other news:
Spray painted my snowboard this weekend. If you see an old dude on the slopes of Aspen Highlands or Snowmass, riding on a matte gray board with skulls, skulls, skull, push him over or hit him with a snowball.