What happens when outlines go bad

This morning has been pretty rough. Well, actually, it’s still rough, but I needed to take a break from the hysteria to get a better perspective. You know that bit I said about euphoria and hysteria in equal doses – I meant that. And today fits that perfectly.

So what’s gives?

Well, I think in hindsight I had it pretty easy with Watcher. Call it beginner’s luck or perhaps it’s first novel mojo, but whatever you call it, it’s been severely lacking with this second book.

I’d say that today I have officially woken up and smelled the coffee. Today I realized that I was actually struggling. The pacing’s off, I’m about hundred pages short of the first book, and the ending feels a bit rushed. My other half tells me just to finish the darn thing and go back and edit, but I’m afraid I’m not built that way. No, instead I’ve spent the morning poring over the storyline and trying to figure out where I’ve gone wrong. And you know what? It became clear very quickly.

I’ve got a bad outline.

Yep. The outline I set up for myself at the beginning of writing Protector has some major flaws that I’m just noticing with only a third of the book left to write. The red flags should’ve started waving earlier when I found myself combining chapters in the first 30% of the book. Combining chapters is never a good thing – it means that you didn’t have enough flesh for those chapters to be robust, stand-alone scenes. In itself it’s not horrible if it happens once, but when you find that you’re combining multiple chapters all over the place, suddenly, you have a great big gaping hole.

And that’s what I’ve got. I have a stagnant space right before the final story arch. It’s big and ugly and staring balefully at me even as I write up this blog.

So how do you fix it? Good question. Right now, I’m re-doing the plot lines for the last remaining chapters as they stand. I’m hoping that by plotting them out on large sheets of paper I can see where the worse offending gaps are. It’s sort of working. I can see the black hole that has swallowed up my next chapters, but the unfortunate part is I don’t know what’s going to fill that hole so I can get to the end.

That’s the dilemma that I’m tackling now. What sort of action and information would be useful to the reader to enhance the story and not bog it down? Filler for filler’s sake is good for no one.

So wish me luck. I need it.

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