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Chart the Course to the End

I will never write another book…that I don’t thoroughly outline first! The yet-to-be-fully-edited book I “finished” two years ago was my first venture into epic fantasy. I did everything wrong. I started out trying to write pretty sentences on the first page and had no idea where I was going.

With Blood & Soul (the first in what will be a series of standalone books called The Creed of Kings Saga) I settled down a lot and worked on the story first by outlining, but things still got way way too complicated as my imagination chased rabbits way off the trail. I did an outline. I kind of knew where I was going but not completely. Things cannot be fuzzy when I start off. As Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind[!]” Have a vision and gather all your strengths and resources around a mission to get there–that goes for business and books.

Thus, I will never write another book…without doing an outline and knowing the ending. I nailed the ending on the 5th Revision. If I had it sooner, I might be done now! As it stands now I have a lot of false trails to sever as I approach the end of Blood & Soul.

Trim cheesy fat. Build emotional muscle.

The Big Picture

It’s cliché but it fits. It’s a forest shrouded in mist when you set out to discover the story hidden in the fog. A year later you find your forehead buried in your palms as you hack at vines of story line tangled up in your imagination. “How’s the book going?” they ask. You dread telling them the truth, that you can’t see the forest for the trees and then you cringe at the overused phrase the masters warn you about. But, then, months later, you crawl out in the daylight and look back. You’ve produced a manuscript. You followed the outline, the North Star. It’s still full of worries and wonders. But, it’s there in all its glorious embarrassing contradictions and silly dialog. You want to lock it up and never show a soul.

I read somewhere in one of my many books about writing that I should wait a month before revising. I don’t have that much time. I have a real job. Two weeks later I had walked around the forest and found the trail into the manuscript I had taken before. I was worried the frist plot point was coming too late, that the reader would get frustrated. I knew it had to come quicker. I scanned for a groove, a thread, a snag, anything to bring it closer. I found it! When I did it shifted the whole story into better balance, which felt like catching my breath.

I’ve still got a long way to go, but, because I had made it through the forest already I had the power of perspective, the big picture. I could not obtain that until I had traveled the distance. I improved the story because I knew the ending. In my limited experience and study of the art of story telling, I cannot stress this enough. Finish! Get to the end. Even if you are exhausted and your writing suffers. This is a fundamental truth in creating a story worth sharing and the biggest dragon I had to slay. Stephen R. Covey‘s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says habit two is begin with the end in mind. Have a goal in life as well as in the book you’re writing. Find the bullseye and aim and pull the trigger.

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