Sometimes you have to learn the hard way

I know a lot about writing. I’ve been an editor, a critic, an essayist, written white papers, and been a student of the written word for a long time. I hardly know everything, though, and sometimes even when I know something it doesn’t really hit home until someone else points it out – or it hits me like a snowball in Hell.

Ever have one of those moments when everything just comes together? I had one today. I’m working on a web comic serial novel. The outline / script has hit 50,000 words, and I have enough material for about 10 -12,000 more. I know exactly what I want to have happen, even sketched out several chapters (not in a finished state by any means, more story-boarded), but I’ve been struggling with the order of my chapters. Examples include a character has a fight with another character he hasn’t met yet; an emotional attraction ignites hot, dims almost out, burns hard, dims, flares up…; the main character mourning an old friend before that person has become a friend – you know, like that.

So I found myself at a loss – what do I do with this out-of-order, chaotic pile of stuff? I know I have a good story, I just have to make it come together.
Then it hits me: my outline / script is just too big. I have to make it smaller so I can fit it on one page. Then I have a shot at picturing the right order. I managed that by going extremely simple. Instead of writing stuff and then pasting it together, I decided to “Write a one-sentence description of each chapter.” Works wonders for a 60,000 word novel that’s not coming together right, not because I don’t know what I’m doing but because it’s just too damned big to keep in my head all at once.
My only problem was, I did that, it worked, and I was so happy with it I couldn’t wait to get home and fix the actual manuscript – and then didn’t get to the manuscript fast enough. I was grumpy until I got to it. Sorry, everyone; didn’t mean to react that way.
Life with a writer: a real roller-coaster.

3 thoughts on “Sometimes you have to learn the hard way

  1. Been there, done that. The grumpy part that is LOL. But seriously, I write totally differently. Sort of free style, get every thing down chapter by chapter then go back over the whole thing about a dozen times. Every writer works differently and Mom would say I should be doing an outline. That rarely works for me. It seems restrictive although I know it isn’t supposed to be. I guess I’m just a fly by the seat of my pants writer.


  2. I reconciled a long time ago with having to learn stuff the hard way. As a kid my autism was undiagnosed but it was constantly an issue that I didn’t learn things the way parents and teachers wanted to present it. I needed hands-on practical experience and to understand things by pushing until I found their boundaries.

    Much later in life I came to the realization that sometimes you need to teach the hard way as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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