Putting it all together.

When you get lost in planning and outlining.

It is so good to start planning a new story. You have a brand new idea, shining with all her power and potential, promising to develop in a series of compelling situations, involving deep and daring characters, sensual romances and dark mysteries and unexpected twists and turns that keep your story alive; fast-paced scenes, a lot of action and no filler situations, just some vignettes you can insert later to connect all those scenes and completing a rough but stark and visually concrete first draft. Isn’t it good to write, you both ask and say to yourself when you put the final word of that so long awaited first draft. That kind of sensation you never forget and are eager to feel it every time you dive into a new project.

But something can happen, something as scary as it is exciting. You get so inspired that descriptions of your characters unchain your pen and spawn a profuse amount of words, making what you started as a simple analysis a chapter-long section, already shaping into some sort of scene of the story; setting descriptions never end by a self-dictated logic and you go on writing, because when you start seeing places in your head, they relate to one another and before you know, you wrote the outline of a scene or two happening in those places, even with sketches of a dialogue. You know it is like that, you did this before and you will always do. So when you reach the end of your plotting practice, your planning and outlining exercise, you have so many handwritten pages on your notebook and not less than two versions of your MC’s biography, not counting other characters who shout to be developed, you seriously scratch your head and ask the room:

Well, where do I start?

Right there, in that moment, you feel a tip of panic. Of good panic, that is. You know you started something that can and will become big, but you know you have to handle it, otherwise the risk is that all you worked for can remain just as it is. And this cannot happen. So now came the part of the solution to all this, right?

You have one simple but slow-paced way: read through all your plotting exercise and keep just what you really like, what just clicks. You know when it does the moment you read it; you’re the author and you will not be mistaken. Copy and paste to have it all there, then read it all again and you will feel the urge to expand every paragraph, description, sketch and so on. You are so driven by that wonderful and indesctructible story that you want to do it all at once, just to not let it go away. But don’t worry, it will stay there.

For obvious reasons, you cannot expand each part at the same time, you only have two hands, one pen, one keyboard and even if you are fast, it will take time. So take notes. For example, if that scene has a twist involving one of your characters suddenly developing into the supervillain of the story due to some preternatural mutation and you’re looking forward to writing extensively about that but you have three other scenes just shouting to be developed that same moment, just write:

Jane turns superbad by having her already contaminated blood mixed up with the genes of a freaky guy in town.

By reading the sentence above, you know who Jane is (you already outlined part of her character), you know she’s somehow mutated and you know there’s a freaky character who’s got potential superbad genes in him and the mixture of them with Jane’s blood equals Jane 2.0. How this happens, you’ll see later, but you know this happens. By the way, you will write the “how” many times, so you don’t really need to know it now.

Apply this simple process to other shouting-to-be-developed scenes just to have it there. And then move on.

Right now, I find myself scratching my head. But I’m okay. I’ll make it, I know.

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