Becoming a LandlordPosted: October 15, 2014
I don’t really have a writing problem. I have a plotting problem. Make me sit down and write for an hour, I can usually kick-start myself and write something. But whether it’s a coherent part of something bigger, or just a thousand words of gibberish, is often debatable. So often I simply don’t write, because I feel (rightly or not) that it’s a waste of time if I’m not progressing toward a finished product.
I’ve always been a “pantser”—a writer who writes by the seat of his pants, rather than in adherence to an outline. I’ve completed two feature-length screenplays and a handful of short stories that way. And it’s hard. Yes, you can walk around the entire planet, but how much harder on yourself do you make it by abandoning map and compass?
So as I prep to write my first novel, I’m finally outlining first. (I should say, “as I prep to finish my first novel; I’ve “pantsed” half of one already, an approach on which I blame its stalled and unfinished nature.) One outlining technique I’ve found useful so far is a nuts-and-bolts method of taking total target word count and breaking it down by average word count of scenes. This gives me a total target number of scenes, which I can further organize by act. This way, I have a good general idea of how many scenes I need to write to get to point A, point B and so on. And the target word count per scene gives me a goal for each writing session.
Here are a couple of articles I found useful for this approach:
Plotting a Novel By the Numbers (Live Write Breathe)
How Long Should a Scene in a Novel Be? (BeKindRewrite)
I look at it this way: I’m a landlord, and I’m building a furnished apartment building that I want fully occupied. How can I get there if I don’t know how many rooms I have to furnish or how many tenants I need to fill the place?