Today we feature another of our fab WU finalists for the Unpubbed Writer position. Kristan Hoffman isn’t just a terrific writer (she was a quarter-finalist for the Amazon Breatkthrough Novel Award), she’s one of our most loyal commenters (TY, Kristan!). We know you’ll enjoy her post about outlines, word counts, momentum, and writerly frustrations.
A while back, urban fantasy writer Justine Musk wrote a great post about “outlines and word quotas and why they sometimes might lead to sucky writing.” While I do recommend reading the whole thing, here’s the gist of what she said:
I believe in outlines. Except when I don’t.
I believe in daily word quotas. Except when I don’t.
I believe in encountering the work, which an outline can prevent you from doing.
Unfortunately, this is extremely relevant to my new WIP. See, I decided to set word quotas, but I didn’t outline, because I too believe in “encountering the work.” However, what I encountered this time was a big fat BORING first chapter.
Why? Because I wrote back story. I wrote 3,500 words about Jake and Yvonne (the two main characters) that could have been summed up in one simple sentence: Their relationship has gone stale.
When I realized what I’d done, late on a Sunday night, I kind of wanted to die. Because I was exhausted, I still had a word quota to fill, and my writing was garbage. (Garbage!)
Did I cry that night? You bet I did. Teeny tiny tears of frustration. It sucked.
Did I write that night? You bet I did. All 1,000 words. They sucked too.
So why did I even bother to finish my quota if I knew I might have to chuck most of it? [Read more…]