I was sickly from the end of August 2013, yet was diagnosed correctly only on Sept 14. So for three weeks the disease raged in me, while I thought it was a viral flu, the doctors thought it was malaria, then typhoid and only then discovering my yellow-shot eyes and finding out that I had jaundice.
By then the worst was over – the fits, delirium, fevers and chills – and I was left with a weak, lethargic body and an alert, bored mind. Thank goodness! Now I have the perfect situation – I NEED to be in bed rest and not do anything physically straining, but I can WRITE!!! I probably will never get a “writing holiday” like this, so, I decided to see if I can write a 6000 word story.
Why 6000? Because I had read about the South Asian Book Award at Cynsations blog, and only chapter books or novels over 6000 words were eligible. I had been planning to submit my epic fantasy that I had been writing for the past few years (did I mention I was a lazy writer?), but the illness had totally stopped that – no way could I write that climax and make it submission-ready now, not when my fingers refused to co-operate for more than an hour.
But I badly, BADLY wanted to apply. The deadline was Oct 31 (it wasn’t, but we will come to that later) and I decided to doodle my ideas on a possible chapter book plot. Come on! When I was working as a content manager, I had written 6000 words A DAY – that was nonfiction, yes, but still it counts, right? – surely I could write a 6000 word story in THREE weeks! As long as I could splurge on overnight delivery to Singapore, I had plenty of time (or so I thought).
In my world, outlining takes place in the forms of arrows, bubbles, awful renderings of human heads and a lot of flower pots. So it was therapeutic as well, this whole doodling nonsense / outlining my next chapter book fusion thing. In a couple of days I found that I had written a lot of disjointed notes about my deceased cat Moko and one particular memory about him became the seed of the outline and branched out into a plot.
For pansters, this may seem like a terrible idea… which is why I don’t call this part of the process as Outlining. I call it Plot Doodling.
For plotters, plot doodling will directly ease you into outlining. Outlining gives a workable TOC, and if you follow it (with the flexibility to go off-course if your muse decides to), you can finish a draft in a month.
That’s how I finished HOME BEFORE DARK, a 11000 word contemporary fantasy.