As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been distracted lately by a “Shiny New Idea.” These usually pop up when I’ve grown comfortable with the project I’m working on, and when progress hits a steady pace. (aka I get bored) I won’t be abandoning my rewrite of the Magick Forest project. However, I do think I have a little extra creative space in me to lend.
I’ve decided not to just ignore this idea. Instead, I’m going to let my Creative have a little fun. I think of it as a reward for over three months of hard work on the rewrite project. Plotting is a very different brain than the rewriting brain. When I’m plotting, I’m not trying to fix problems that I got myself into. Instead, I’m trying to learn about a character, a setting, a story.
I used to take on the challenge of a first draft with absolutely no outline at all. Now, that very thought makes me cringe because I know it would get me to chapter 7 or 9 and then I’d fizzle out with no direction. I’ve sung the praises of the plot embryo and story wheel previously and I will be using those to craft my character arcs.
I let myself draft the first few chapters as I usually did, for fun and to make sure I connected with the characters enough to tell their stories. There’s no point outlining an entire story for them if I can’t even see their point of view or know what their story is from an organic point. Basically, I wanted to be free to write how I wanted to get it out of my system before locking myself into a set story line. Call it pre-writing, free-writing, or brainstorming.
Now, I’m going through and solidifying how I want the story to go with a very loose outline. It must be a LOOSE outline and not a strict point-by-point arc. Otherwise, I’ll likely get bored or feel like I’m just rewriting something I’ve put down on paper already. I like note cards for this. It’s just enough space for the three big points: motive/goal, conflict, and the resolution/result. The scene can naturally form with dramatic points while still holding onto the big character arc pieces I need.
Drafting this way, I’ve learned, is called headlights-drafting. Think of it as having a map of where you’re starting, where you’re going, and a loose idea of how to get there; the catch is you’re driving in the dark and you’ve never been there before. Headlights-drafting is knowing just what’s in front of you to get you where you need to be.
For this type of drafting, rewriting becomes essential because you’re driving over the same path over and over again. Maybe, you’ll take a different route because you’ve learned it’s faster, or you know that one section needs to be slower and another is faster. The drafting process is still learning what your story is truly about and who your characters truly are, but it’s like having some security along the way. You’re not going to crash because you have some warning of what’s to come.
I love being at this part of writing again. I don’t see it as being at square one like I do with rewriting, but like starting out on a new journey. It’s that fluttering thrill you get in your stomach on the first day of school; nervous about the possibilities, but excited for what is to come of all of it.
Have you given in to a Shiny New Project? What came of it? Do you like Headlights Drafting?