paper + screen

A handy book for story planning

August 9, 2015
Kindle cover for Take Off Your Pants - outline your books for faster better writing, by Libbie Hawker

Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker

One of the biggest takeaways from writing Rukan is that I need to plan this shit better. I finished my first draft in December and I am STILL editing! I had (have) so much rewriting to do. My ‘cut words’ document (because I keep every single precious ickle one, just in case) has EIGHTEEN THOUSAND WORDS in it. Based on my average daily progress to finish the first draft, that means I have deleted 68 days worth of writing. 68 days of struggling at the keyboard, for nothing. Crushing. And I haven’t even finished yet.

I did not pants this book, but nor did I plan it completely. I mostly knew the ending when I started, but I had to figure out how to get there. I mostly knew my characters, but not all of them, and not what truly drove them. And that is where all this rewriting came from: having to go back & edit everything that changed as I wrote the book, as I discovered things unfurl. Entire chapters worth.

I can’t do this again. I don’t have enough lifetime to spend this amount of time writing each book. And I am, by nature, more of a plotter. I just need to do it harder.

So enter stage left: this book by Libbie Hawker (with a very awesome title, btw) and her really useful approach to structuring a story. Her method focuses on character arc, theme & pacing. It isn’t a dense book, and I won’t be following her method to a T, but it has been a really great help to clarify what my next story is about, especially my main character – I’ve really thought about who she is, what drives her, what her flaws are. I feel like I’ve taken some promising steps forward in the plan for my next WIP with it, so I’d happily recommend this e-book to any writer looking for ways to tighten their crafting process.

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