Success! In the last three days I managed to push through my second-draft block. On Friday night I took the bull by the horns, or the book by the pages. I finally admitted to myself that part of my procrastination was a lack of research. I knew my book needed structural work, but I didn’t have a complete grasp of what that work entailed. I had been advised that a beat sheet would help me “fix” my problems, but looking at the sheet I realized that (despite earlier confidence) I didn’t really understand how to use it, or frankly even the vocabulary on the sheet.
So I resolved that lack of knowledge. I opened my copy of Story Engineering by Larry Brooks (A brilliant book I wish I had found years ago.) and looked up the meaning of those pesky unknown words. Then, with that new knowledge under my belt, I looked at each sub-section of my book and with the help of Scrivener (see an old post on Scrivener) began dragging and dropping my scenes into the correct sections: set-up, response, attack and resolution. I was merciless, forcing myself to describe each scene and why each scene was where it was in my book.
This wasn’t an easy process. I had to step back from my personal connection with the writing; the voice that cried out “it’s there because I like it there”. However, while it wasn’t easy I now believe it was critical to the future success of this novel. The process pointed out that I had a few scenes that while brilliantly written, did nothing for the story. (I’m crying a little inside.) The process also illustrated where I had holes in my story; where I needed to build more empathy with my protagonist, and more.
Now that I have a better view of the structure of my novel I believe I am ready to address the holes and write those missing scenes. I have a renewed feeling of confidence and excitement.
I now have a new plan for achieving my goal of having a complete second draft by the end of February.
- Today I will write three small scenes that are missing from the story (one coincidentally in each of the first three sections as described by Story Engineering).
- Next week I will write the missing resolution pieces.
- Next weekend I will polish, proof and copy edit and smooth my scene transitions.
I can do this.
The first plot point in any story is a critical juncture. It is the place in your story when we go from setting up the story to really telling it. That point is so important that it can feel intimidating to writers. One way to get around your intimidation is to begin your writing with that very point. Ask yourself what the turning point is for your character. What changed their world so dramatically that they were forced to act? Write that scene. Once you have your first plot point, take a long piece of legal paper and write the title of that scene about 1/4 of the way down the page and start making bullet points about the rest of your story. Everything before your first plot point will be set-up and the rest will be how your character deals with this change; the story. This page now forms the basis of a story outline or beat sheet you can use to guide your writing moving forward. Happy writing.