Richard C. White (nightwolfwriter) wrote,
Richard C. White

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Practice what you preach

I've been working on a proposal for a novel I'm thinking about pitching to a small press (mainly because I don't think there's a major publisher out there looking for any original super-hero characters. Everything I've seen so far has been a super-hero novel that's based on a DC or Marvel superhero. If anyone knows differently, feel free to let me know).

It's a fun little story. Started out as a short story, but I've been having fun playing with it, doing the world building, trying to make it sound (semi-)plausible. As I said, I'm planning on pitching the outline to a small press company and if they like it, then I'll finish up the project. I had a good opening and I knew how it had to end, but I was getting bogged down in the middle. The more I worked with it, the more bogged down I was getting which was very frustrating.

So, I decided to take some of the advice I've given out at conventions as a panelist. I sat down with a blank piece of paper and did a flowchart in reverse. I preach backward planning based on my experiences in the military. If you know you have to deploy on X date, then what will you need to deploy. Once you know what you need, then you know it takes X-y days to get stuff packed for the deployment and it takes y-z days to get stuff from supply and it takes z-a days to get a requisition through channels to get to supply, etc.

Well, you (the author) can do that too. If I know what I want the story outcome to be, then Y has to happen to get the protagonist to point Z. So, X has to happen to get them to point Y and so on. This strategy is really useful if you're doing a mystery story so you don't leave out important clues for both your detective and your readers (no fair surprising them with information only the detective knows).

So, since I knew what the big finale for my story was, I just started working backwards toward the front of the book. I used a rough flowchart for major decision points. Did I want this to happen, or how about that. Both would work to move my characters forward, but which one seems the most interesting and which one makes the book too complicated? I had some sections that had four possible tracks, but after a couple of hours of scratching, redrawing lines, throwing out an entire subplot and generally enjoying the heck out of myself playing "what if?", I had a good idea for a story. Plus, wound up adding two completely new players to the dramatis personna of the book, who will be fun to play with.

Now, it's just a matter of writing up the cover letter and the proposal. So, unless someone suggests a better home for this within the next week, it'll be out the door to one of the editors for this small press who I met at Ravencon.

Practicing what you preach. What a concept!
Tags: conventions, lynx, proposals, writing

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