So, a while back, Sarah conned me into doing something that might just rewrite all my rules. Seriously. She asked me for a plot summary for a book I hadn't written. A BOOK... I HADN'T written. Naturally, my brain exploded, my world shrunk, and somewhere a fairy died, but I decided to give it a shot. What I came up with... was not at all pretty. I couldn't write a book summary. I could write a chapter-by-chapter summary, but not a book summary. I sent it off, with my apologies for its Frankenstein presentation, and Sarah was good with it... and didn't hunt me down and shake it in my face while shouting, "What the crap is this?" (I sometimes have paranoid and implausible fantasies about what might happen in a worst case scenario.) That was then... and I immediately turned around and did heavy revisions on two books right after, but the fact that I could summarize a book I hadn't written... hung with me... and it got into my brain.
Now, I'm trying to work on Sentinel's Run. (Sarah is distracted with other projects temporarily, so I'm working feverishly while she is.) It's been a year since I worked on Sentinel's Run. It fell casualty to other projects taking precedence and it's gone mostly untouched for a year now. I started it last June, wrote 25K, received a request from Sarah for a full and then copies of my other stuff... and then buried myself in other projects.
Ideally, I want to finish Sentinel's Run while still working on other revisions if requested. Moving from a YA paranormal to a Dystopian sounds like a nightmare, though. So, I decided to try a chapter-by-chapter plot summary. I've been working on that this week and I did it... I actually plotted out the remainder of the book. I can't believe I can do that. Then, yesterday, using my chapter summary, I added a full chapter to Sentinel's Run. I created a cheat sheet for voice while I was creating the summary, so I'm all plotty-plot-plotterton this time even.
In some ways, it's still pantsing because I can only write as far as the next chapter... and then the next chapter. It turns out looking like a fairly boring short story. I can't summarize the whole book--my mind doesn't work that way. I can build on each chapter, though.
So, how does this change all the rules?
I know this won't be the same book I would have written without the plot summary. My mind rambles down random paths in novels much like I do in these blog posts. With the plot summary in place, I won't do that. I really think this might tighten up my writing in a way I'm not managing in revisions. I'm wondering if I should do chapter summaries on some books after the fact... I'm thinking, seriously, that I might force myself to do this for all my books in the future... though possibly not until after the first few chapters are written.
For the record, I hated writing the chapter summaries. I let myself have a cupcake after I was finished and patted myself on the head and said, "You did it, Wendy! You're not a hack." It was seriously pulling teeth and my muse kept screaming, "We don't write this way! This sucks! I hate you! I'm going to go stick a dead rat on your pillow!"
So, when I finished writing the chapter last night... my first shiny new chapter on this WIP in a year... I wanted to find someone and shake them and shout, "I did it! I can plot! I can use a plotted out summary! I'm not a hack." Sadly, it was one a.m. and I was insane for still being awake, but it's the thought that counts.
Anyway, so my posts over the next few weeks will probably be all about Sentinel's Run and how much I love it and how I want to hug it and squeeze it and call it George. (Seriously, I love this story... I've tried to marry it, but our love will have to be a thing of dreams, but that didn't work out so well.)