I established three key things in my last couple of Just Write blog entries: my main character, Anna, is relentless in her quest to have her story told, my novel (as it stands) is a big pile of dog poo, and that it is necessary to start all over if I hope to produce something even remotely interesting.
In the last day or two, I’ve set about trying to figure out where I went wrong. I am embarrassed – and relieved – to say that it wasn’t all that hard. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I have a foundation problem. The core inciting incident which is pivotal to this plot driven novel occurs fifteen years too soon. I arranged the timeline is such a fashion because I felt that it gave my character depth. This single traumatic incident created the woman she grew to be and dictated her path in life.
Sounds good, right?
Well, at least it sounded good in my head. On paper – not so much.
Turns out, the time gap destroys the credibility of Anna’s motivation. If your character has no motivation, you have no story – at least, not one that anyone would waste their time reading.
I have worked pretty consistently this week on a fresh outline. I am going back to the bare bones with a single sentence tagline, rewritten character profiles, and a basic question and answer sequence in order to sketch out the motivations and obstacles of all involved.
I’ve just started outlining the setup. I’ve got some good ideas percolating. So many so that I am fighting the urge to just start writing. Okay. I will admit to handwriting one scene, but I promise not to type it until my outline is finished.
Goal = Met; Problems identified. Entire story scraped. New outline started.
Next week’s goal = finish a solid first draft of the setup outline.