Last week I set out on the scary task of cementing (read: pulling hair out and glueing it back) the outline of Running the Asset after many mid-write changes.
Here’s how it went…
Review 6th to 12th January 2022
Oh, boy, digging around in an 80K+ word manuscript to note where you need to make changes is dirty work. Given my sub-genre of spies, it was more like wet work.
It all started well. Surprisingly well, to be honest; I blasted through the changes for Act I and got close to the end of Act II (a) before I hit a wall. The wall wasn’t a surprise; I knew it was waiting for me. It’s been there all the way through the planning sessions, but I knew that dealing with it would have enormous ramifications for the story’s midsection.
I’d tried to deal with it back then but kept stumbling over “stuff”. I say “stuff” because I couldn’t quite figure out what was causing the issues. So, I put it off, knowing that future Susan would deal with it. Yeah, thanks.
Future Susan, well Present Susan, to the rescue with a massive dose of help from way, way, Past Susan. Okay… Before delving into fiction writing, I studied feature film screenwriting at UCLA Extension’s Writer’s Program. I even have a certificate and a hat!
One of the best lessons I learned from screenwriting, and subsequently forgot over the years, was how to take a full-length movie and distil it into twenty-five words or less (a logline). If you can’t do that, your story is too big and sprawling–basically, it’s unfocused, incoherent, and generally unenjoyable for the viewer/reader.
So, I went back to the start and wrote the logline for the book. It all looked good. Then I had a wee bit of a lightbulb moment. Why not do the same with each act of the story (Acts I, II (a), II (b), III, and the denouement)?
Lo and behold, Act II (a) ‘s logline was forty-seven words long. I finally knew what was wrong, I’d shoehorned too much external plot (the spy bits) into that act, and it was having a knock-on effect on the next act.
With a bit of butchery and some expanding foam to cover over the cracks, I cut out the excess to reveal a svelte, focused, and fun Act II (a). That excess wasn’t bad stuff–the scenes are essential to the story–it was just in the wrong place. But, there was a perfect spot for them just after the internal plot (the romance) midpoint.
With the Act II (a) wall finally demolished, I cemented the changes to the outline!
TL;DR: Yes, I achieved my goal.
This Week’s Writing Goals
- Revise the scene list for the whole story
- Assign scenes/sequences to chapters–yip, I haven’t done this yet 😬
- Apply lessons on Universal Fantasies from 7 Figure Fiction to the scene level
That’s it for today. Thanks for stopping by, and take care.
13 thoughts on “Author Journal 13th – 19th January 2022”
Awesome that you could remember those lessons from screenwriting and thus finally figure out what blocked the flow of the plot, Susan! And also that you could incorporate the beloved bits and pieces that got cut out of one act in other parts of the story.
Practising longlines is actually a very good exercise, not only for writing.
I learned a similar technique, even for writing a business plan.
Note to self: Need to keep life’s longlines in view.
Wishing you a bunch of good flow for the work ahead!
Thank you, Stefanie! I was sprauchlin for a wee bittie. It’s funny how you suddenly remember an old technique.
I’d never thought of using loglines for business plans, or anywhere else for that matter. That’s a really good idea! I’ll keep that one in mind for the future. 🤗
Stefanie Neumann: liked this. via twitter.com
You must have been knee deep in the cuttings on the floor 🙂
There’s blood… everywhere 🔪
Awesome! Bringing all your skills. I can’t wait to read your book.
Oh, thank you, Chris!