Due to the results of my most recent discussion regarding Project Stripes with a friend, I have decided to branch out and try new methods of plot crafting. If it promises an improvement to the work, I am always open to different angles of creating a story. He told me the beginning, out of the story as a whole, was the part that needed the most attention. I had to agree with him. Project Stripes, out of all the other stories in development, is the one that presents the most difficult to open. Arthur’s (the main character) backstory and the events leading up to the inciting incident are things I know so well but get all tangled when trying to tell it to others.
I am so willing to change to my approach to Arthur’s story because after so many drafts (and experience in my degree), I realized I have a bit of trouble with beginnings. I believe I talked about this in a previous post: Challenges in Chapter One. Clearly my previous efforts have not been working because the beginning is still not on par with the rest of the book. It was time to try something new in order to eliminate the problem with opening chapters.
That something new started in the form of jotting down notes of what I could do to the introduction of Arthur and his predicament that was totally different to material relatively untouched since I started writing back in 2013 (chapters 1-3). It was me just brainstorming and then writing out short clips I hoped to turn into larger scenes. I would start with a line or two of an idea and then dive into the scene including narration and dialogue of the characters. The process showed me how even after two years of working, there was still much I unknown about the characters. Before, I would have dreaded still getting to know my characters after spending “for so long” on a story. But then I realized if I’m only learning these new things now, that must mean I’m not ready to put Arthur out there. What I thought was a setback to advancing my story turned out to be an indication that understanding story comes when least expected, when deciding to view the challenges in chapter one from a different angle.
What kind of angle? Well just take a look at the title of this post. Outlining, yeah, I know. It’s a slippery slope with two directions. Either you end up planning out every single step of the story until it ends up robotic, or you plan so much that you lose steam and end up never actually writing the story. I used to be appalled by the efforts of outlining. It seemed too constrictive. I learn about the story as I write not before. I realized as I wrote short clips and developed those that I melded my previous methods of writing with outlining to create something that will (hopefully) yield a solid start to Arthur’s coming of age.
A key aspect to this more detailed outlining process than the picture above was framing each event into scenes. This would make it easier for me to view the story objectively and see what was working and what needed elaboration. I would even write “Scene 1, Scene 2, etc.” in the margins next to the literal break in time of events. I may be only at the middle of chapter 1, but I see major potential for more clarity in these exposition chapters. Oh yes. In detailed outlining, I have not decided to re-write chapter 1 but chapter 2 and 3 as well. I even have clips of scenes already written out that already sound better than in my latest draft.
It sounds like a promising time for Arthur’s development and Project Stripes, but I’m not getting hasty. I have other methods planned to ensure the clarity and consistency of the story as well as its ability to connect to the reader and inform them of the lessons Arthur learned from his trials.