Seperis (seperis) wrote,

on writing, the outline method, take two

Picking up from where I left off yesterday--

When I joke and say that Somewhere I Have Never Traveled was my answer to NaNoWriMo in the Winter, I'm not actually being literal. I mean, it becames literal at twenty thousand words, but before that, I was just amusing myself with wondering how fast I could burn myself out. I started with this--Clark is human. Have a party.

A long time ago, I read some writer's advice that you should always start with a fantastic first line. God alone knows how many fic ideas died when I couldn't figure out a first line, Thank You Whatever Author Said That Crap, because I don't entirely buy that. I use the one page method--in one page, I should be able to draw the reader in enough that they'll settle in for the long haul. I figured any time I started with convulsive vomiting in the bathroom, at least *someone* was going to say, well now. That's interesting. Let's see what other disgusting bodily functions she can illustrate for us. I like to think those that read me are open-minded.

The first section was written with teh firm idea that Lois and Clark were dating. That went south really fast, because the more I wrote, the less I enjoyed that idea, one, and two, I had them just snapping at each other far too much. I borrowed a lot of Lois from liviapenn, and she worked for me in every way but dating Clark. In the end, making Clark leave her for Lex hurt me, and much as I love my melodrama, deliberately conspiring to injure my characters seemed a little cold. And this--was going to be *light* reading. It was cute, light, funny, semi-comedic romance. Kind of like if Penthouse bought stock in Disney.

By the third section posted, though, I had a quandry on my hands. I couldn't quite stop--even my laissez-faire attitude of plot, what plot, porn, more porn was taking a beating, and I couldn't wrap up Lex's conversion to the Beige Side and the fallout without investment. I skipped a day, did Christmas things, and then restarted and decided to see if I could do this the really old fashioned way--choose my adventure and barrel down it until I hit the end. I closed my eyes, got my keyboard, and picked my ending. And then headed in that directin.

I'd put in two inadvertent--or semi-inadvertent--bits to pick up and run with. One, I had Lex being less evil than usual. Two I had a meteor shower. At the time I put it in, I had vague and unsubstantiated ideas that it might carry Evil Krytponians, but reading back over it, I decided yes, those are Evil Kryptonians and boom, I had my secondary plotline. The primary was the romance. I was all about teh romance. By this point in my fannish career, I'd thoroughly gotten over caring that I was OTPing a pairing. I was *all for it*. I still felt the need to apologize for it, but only in my own head.

I imported Daniel from The Autumn People, created a doctor to give Clark a semi-deux ex machina should it become necessary, and set off to make something interesting out of this.

I created an outline soon after--not nearly as sophisticated as Jus's, and it didn't need to be. I was doing a single point of view, a single building relationship, and no real grey spots--Lex had already been altered, and we were seeing the fallout. Clark had changed species. The romance was relatively pain-free. Basically, I had two jobs to carry out--get Clark to get to know *this* Lex and then save the world, the latter depending a great deal on teh former. What surprised me was that I ended up developing Clark more--and my outline shows my shift of wanting to see what Clark was without the powers. Not being a Clark-girl, I always love him best while writing--ti's much harder to really hate someone who you just made get glasses adn burn his fingers on the oven. And so, Lex slowly adn steadily took a backseat to me trying to figure out who human Clark would be. If he'd really changed at all. To my own surprise, I found out that he hadn't, and that I liked it. I liked Superman. I thought Clark could be that man, powers or no. I wanted Lex to make a conscious choice to do the right thing. I wanted him to find something in the world that would make him value it more than himself. And I made Clark the symbol, to him, of good things, things that were more important to him than to himself. I wanted him to be better. And he was.

This one could also be my answer to Oh My God, What the Hell Were You Doing with A Handful of Dust? Yeahhh.

The outline at this point was a patchwork beast thing--I basically had phrase notes of what to remember I already used, where my clues were--I was writing almost real-time in public, so I couldn't afford huge interstory errors--when everyone is basically reading over your shoulder, they *notice* this stuff, and this is fandom--someone out there knows everything about any given subject and will *tell you*. At length. I updated it after posting each section, went over what I had done, and paced myself on how much I was allowed to write and what I had to get to in the future. I experienced a short term psychotic break and plotted out the remainder in story notes, numbered no less, then just to see how I was doing, averaged out my word count. Including all days, and not including the sections I cut, I was around 3500 per night.

A lot of Somewhere owes itself to the fact I got my pride wrapped up in it. Jus was a marathon. Somewhere was a two mile sprint. And I'm a hundred meter kind of a girl. I set the date I wanted to be done, bit my lip and said I wouldn't hate myself if I couldn't do it, knew it was a lie, and got on with it. I came in at roughly twenty eight or so days. I can't remember for certain. The primary plotline--the romance--resolved itself, Clark, with a lttle help from Lex, saved the world, and I took a deep breath and promised myself that never again would I try that. That was a lie, too, but I didn't know it at the time.

Okay, now the part that I've been asked about--the sequels and the Burned Cookie and all the ways I fucked it up.

Yes, that wasn't in the plan. I had something much more drawn out in mind for how Clark was going to be tested following Somewhere. When I wrote Gladly Beyond, I got commentary on Clark's drinking problem. Was he depressed, I was asked anxiously. He's given up so much. And seriously, y'all, I can honestly state that I had to go back and re-read to find out what had happened. Gladly was written in self-contained sections, unoutlined, but with a list of things I had to hit to get from the end to the beginning. In at least two or three sections, he was abusing alcohol or smoking or reflecting on vague unhappiness. It was my Domestic Romance, and I'd somehow managed to give Clark a drinking problem.

Oh, I said, and then, huh.

At the end of Somewhere, I'd vaguely tossed around a presidency-era fic. The idea was Evil Kryptonian Children--my originality knows no bounds. Some of Gladly was set up for that, especially Daniel, Lana, and Chloe. But by the end of Gladly, I'd nailed down what would happen--Lana and Clark would have an affair, Clark would become Superman again to stop the Evil Kryptonian Children (so not kidding) and there'd be post-presidential happily ever after. Then I ran out of my fandom and found QaF, and suddenly canonically gay guys were getting straight girls pregnant and you can see this was going bad places.

But I wanted to please Certain People, and seriously, you *all know* who I'm talking about here, and she can probably tell you how it happened, but I pulled out Still Life then Take You There, which is set right after Gladly Beyond and was going to be set up for the presidential disaster. And then The Burned Cookie Fic (seriously, that *name*), and I looked back three stories and realized I'd been setting up Lex as the adulterer since the pre-Somewhere story Rising. I'd been setting it up in my *random snippets* with Chloe's bitterness and Lex's freaky insecurity. And of *course* he'd screw this up. Of course he would. He got everything he *wanted*. No Lex I've ever written had ever met a situation he could not sabotage. *Of course* he'd fuck up his marriage. And it was kind of a rush--this weird glee to go in and break all my toys into pieces. I mean, not just break them, but ground them into the dirt with my heel. It's--hard to explain. I squick at adultery. I mean, I seriously squick at it in a huge, kind of mindless way involving sacred cows and headaches and later perhaps vindictive reactive-writing. It bothers me on a variety of levels. But Somewhere is kind of a neutral place to test out writing styles and also, it was--I got to *break* them. Not just build their eternal freaking romance, not marry them off and save the world. I ran the entire *gamut* of relationship events. they dated, lived together, got married, saved the world, took the White House, and then Lex blew it all up to hell. Oh man, that was fun. So yeah, a rush.

And then I gave it to Madelyn to watch her twitch. That was almost the best part.

But okay, getting back to the point. Yes. I knew there'd be adultery as the relationship plotline, but weirdly, I never got farther than contemplating Clark doing it, and then being unable to find a reason for it. And for that, I'd need one. Weirdly, he had some good reasons--he was apparently drinking (again, cannot state enough that I still go back and look at that and wonder what I was *doing*), and he was a little depressed about his First Husband status and maybe a little bored with his life. But I was working from the idea that Clark would sabotage himself, and he *does* but he does it mostly by accidental. He could not accidentally fall over and slide in Lana's vagina. It would be *funny*, but not the deep melodrama I'd hoped for. It would also freak me out a little--I liked Lana, and i'd already given her a shitty husband and depressing life. Piling Clark on top of her seemed overkill.

Method there is not much, I think, but it's still more than that little quartet of semi-novellas I was feverishly working on in early-mid 2002.

And back to the original point.

Somewhere had a *plan*. A haphazard plan, but it did have one going on there.

This is very cathartic. Yes. It is.
Tags: meta: my fic, meta: writing
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