Hey wow look, I posted the first section of my go at a pulp story! Just 3 months after I initially planned to! On a cosmic scale that’s basically no time at all, right?
So what happened? The title here says it all: writing serially is hard. 1 I wrote the first section (and it was way too long and not very good, but that’s the project, right?). I went to post it. Then I convinced myself to write the second section before I posted the first, just in case. In case of what? I couldn’t tell you, really, I just could not bring myself to even save the draft.
I wrote the second section. Then the third. Then half of the fourth. At that point I had, essentially, the whole damn story all ready to go, and it still felt… well, wrong. And that got me thinking about Luke’s post on the freedom to be wrong, a post with which I rather vehemently disagreed at the time.2
But here I was looking at a perfect example: being wrong, knowing it was wrong, stalled me. If I had just posted the damn thing and moved on, maybe I would have figured it out sooner. If I had been willing to scrap my outline earlier, maybe I wouldn’t still be doing in April what should have been done by February.
It was when I was finally willing to admit that the outline was wrong that I could move forward. I scrapped one of the things that Dent considers critical, one of the major physical conflicts, and it shrank the first section to a reasonable size and left it feeling more streamlined. You’ll see that even in my outline I didn’t feel great about the removed section. Even then it was more about checking a box than writing what felt right.
So what is wrong? 3 Was my outline wrong? Was the outline right and then it became wrong once I wrote it? 4 Presumably if I were really writing serially I would have posted what I had and found a way to make it work. Would that have made it right? And how do we know what’s wrong? Is it always just a feeling, sensing something’s off?
I’m still not sure I agree with Luke. Yeah, I couldn’t move forward until I admitted I had been wrong, but when you make a change, either the original plan is the wrong one or the new one is, right? But letting yourself continue doing what’s wrong doesn’t make your story better — it just makes more work for you when you scrap it.5
I have no idea how Luke and James are doing it.↩
And, like all proper internet users, I posted my disagreement in the comments!↩
This is not a rhetorical device, where I ask a question and then answer it in the following paragraph. I’m actually asking here.↩
Things did change, lots of things–maybe if I had hewed even closer to the outline it would have worked.↩
Possibly? Honestly, I’m still stuck on defining “wrong”.↩