Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Plotting and Planning at ERWA

It's not quite April, but those fast girls and boys over at ERWA have already posted next month's columns, and of course "Cooking Up a Storey" continues with my latest report from my novel-writing adventures. In Plotting and Planning: NaNoWriMo, Novel Outlines, and the Linear Comforts of Asparagus I talk about the benefits and drawbacks of outlining your novel and offer up a simple and tasty recipe for asparagus risotto. Is it just California or are your vegetable markets bursting with fresh and cheap asparagus right now, too? I love that stuff! And I've finished a rough outline of my novel and will discuss it with my writing buddy tonight. If she tells me it sucks, I'll have to kill myself, so this may be my last blog post, not to mention the column will go on permanent hiatus. So just in case, it's been great knowing y'all!

And I know, the photograph has nothing to do with asparagus, but it is related to my novel. Don't ask me how just yet, it's a secret....


Jeremy Edwards said...

Well done—as always, Sensei!

Isn't it interesting that two sound, helpful books give opposite advice? You've done such a great job of showing how we need to see what's out there in terms of advice and then select the parts that work best for us.

Also, I love asparagus. : )

Thom Gautier said...

I love secrets!

Donna said...

Hey Jeremy,

What's better than a nice, long, al dente stalk of asparagus with a touch of lemon juice?

Novel writing is such a daunting task, and I'm much more aware of how daunting the second time around. Glad my flounderings can be of help.

I must add that my writing buddy liked the outline and helped me reshape it, so I've moved into the 30 Days approach camp as of last night. And I don't have to kill myself, so I'll be around :-).

Donna said...

Hey Thom,

I like secrets, too. I'll bet if you listen real carefully around here, you might just hear a few good ones ;-).

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Great reference for us writers. You are officially bookmarked by me!

Donna said...

Thank you, Julia! We're all in this together.

Emerald said...

What a very very interesting column! I especially found it intriguing that the two perspectives you shared about outlining and noveling did indeed seem so different -- almost contrary -- and I easily saw value and helpfulness in them both. How very cool. If I were working on a novel, I feel your column this month would seem very helpful, Donna. :)

(Oh and ha, I just read Jeremy's comment and see that he pointed out basically the same thing. :))

I have tended to write far more in the style you mention Blaty proposes, but I found especially interesting the discussion of the "black moment" and your personal experience of identifying it and your proclamation that it helped solidify the story arc. Very fascinating.

Ah, like Jeremy, I love asparagus. In fact it's one of my favorite vegetables and perhaps favorite foods. How cool that you're seeing an abundance of it! Heh, I have neglected grocery shopping for so long that I don't even know if it's predominant around here right now or not. :/

Anyway, that recipe sounds fabulous.

Thank you for this wonderfully informative as well as entertaining column!

Oh, and by the way, however it's involved, I really like that picture!

Donna said...

Hey, Em, we should have an asparagus party! I really love it just plain roasted with lemon.

Anyway, thank you for reading the column. I think there's room for both approaches, but I don't think I'll ever sit down to write a draft of a novel without an outline in future. Of course, all my thinking and mulling is a kind of Blaty-esque first draft, so I do feel like I'm having it both ways. Stories are different though, they can take shape as you write. At least for me. I guess I really don't like to be tied down to one approach in the end!

Emerald said...

That's true, I forgot to mention that I of course have only written stories thus far. Were I doing a novel, I can see how an outline would seem much more helpful and perhaps indispensable.

And yes, the most appropriate approach seems to me whatever works best for you!