It’s been a while since I blogged (ha, I could so just end that sentence there!) about Holly Lisle’s Think Sideways course. Not because I fell out of love with it, not because it suddenly sucked – but because it went faster than I did. I ‘finished’ the course a month ago, and I’d read everything in it – but I hadn’t applied it.
Usually, it isn’t until you apply stuff that you get those gorgeous ‘Eureka!’ moments, where things crystallise and become clear, and you fall in love again.
Yup, it’s middle time. I’m a squeak away from the halfway point in Jesscapdes, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about my way of writing a novel, it’s that the closer I get to the ending, the more scenes ahead I need to have mapped out.
When I start writing, I’m pretty content to go with just a vague – ok, this, then maybe this, and probably this is what will change things in the middle, and it might end like that. By the end of act one (usually between 7 and 12 chapters in), I start outlining a few scenes ahead, so I always know what’s going to happen in the next handful of chapters.
By halfway, it’s time to break out the index cards and have a serious, midstream re-think. The story’s big enough to have gravity, it’s alive enough to have morphed away from my initial plan a little, and it needs tweaking. By now, there are things happening in the beginning which I just know won’t work with where the story needs to go – and I can’t move on until I’ve fixed them. Interestingly, Lisa Shearin shares how she hits a similar point at about 3/4s of the way through.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I go back and edit. If I did that, I’d never finish. I just pretend to edit. I redo the outline, so I know what the story ought to look like by this point, and I keep going. Now, to be honest, the middles section of the Think Sideways course was my least favourite, and for Jesscapdes I used a different model. But now that I’m there, now that I’ve plotted well past the middle and am sniffing the ending – well, my brain needs to know what it is.
So I broke out month five of Think Sideways, and got to work. And man, I am here to tell you, this is why I love this course. I spent a couple of hours yesterday working through the lessons on how to find your ending, and I am so excited. The day before, I hated my story. I hadn’t written in over a week, the story felt like rubbish, the ideas stale, the characters flat... I hated it with all the passion of being-stuck-in-the-middle-of-the-first-draft.
But thanks to Think Sideways and the lessons on story gravity (how to find all the promises you’ve made to the readers in the story) and on how to find the RIGHT ending for your story (pulling together all of those promises without being trite, or lame, or boring or predictable) – wow. I am so excited.
And I remember why I like themes: because even though I’m the one writing the story, I learn something about life every time. Today’s lesson, brought to you by the Theme of Jesscapades: There are some things in life you just have to fight, even if the rules say otherwise.
So, here’s to endings, and being over halfway through the book! *hefts glass* :)
PS - Hoorah! I finally have internet back on at home! Here's also to more regular blogging! :D