So, as I said in The Plan, I would like to be able to write a novel or two. Or more. And get them published. As it happens, I came across two items recently that helped me formulate the plan.
The first was an article about using the “Snowflake Method” to writing a novel. You can read more about it here. The basic idea is that you start general and get specific in a very ordered way. Start with a one line description of your novel idea; expand it to a paragraph; summary of main characters (their storyline, motivation, goal, conflict, epiphany); expand the plot paragraph; expand the character descriptions, etc. It’s pretty formulaic, but makes a good roadmap.
The second was something I read about Elmore Leonard. I like Westerns (which I have no excuse for), and learned that Leonard started out writing Western stories, so I picked up a copy of Leonards’ Complete Western Stories. The intro to the book has some comments, and in there I read that Leonard wanted to be a writer, liked Westerns (movies), and when he started (in the early-50s), magazines were buying Western stories. His idea was to write Westerns as a way of making money while he learned how to write.
And something about that was an epiphany to me. The idea that writing might be something to work at rather than be dependent on inspiration. I mean, I know you have to work at writing to write well. But the less I think about it as art, and the more I think about it as a project, like a puzzle, the easier it is to approach the problem of writing a story: how to create characters a reader might care about enough to find out what happens to them.
There’s something liberating about focussing on a good story instead of amazing writing. At least, at this stage of my development.