Two nights ago I completed the last character sketch for my next book. I even modified the approach by writing each character's backstory in their own voice starting at the point where they enter the story. I think it helped me to create a unique voice for each one of them; I tend to make all my characters sound alike. (At least, I think they do.) The next step is to actually plot out every scene in a big spreadsheet. I love spreadsheets. I'm excited to have a reason to open Excel.
The itch to start writing has begun to, well, itch. This is the point when I gave up on the snowflake method when writing Reinventing Rachel. Actually, if I'm honest, I slapped together some pretty half-baked character sketches for ReRa because of the dang itch, so it's safe to say I've gotten much further this time. I've never outlined with this much depth, and my little inner voice is complaining that this is too formulaic and all the creativity is getting sucked out of the process. Which is so not true. If anything, I'll be able to be MORE creative because I won't have to stop every five minutes to figure out where exactly I want this or that scene to go, what's going to come next, etc. But regardless, it's getting more and more difficult to focus on the process because I want to write already!
It's also not helping that I'm completely stuck as to how to start the story. I'm eager to get out my spreadsheet, but I don't have any idea what to put in it yet. Actually, that's not quite true--I do know about some of the scenes, but they're further on in the story, and I have a very hard time approaching a book in a non-linear way. (Diana Gabaldon, who writes the unputdownable Outlander series, supposedly writes her books by just writing random scenes and assembling them together later. I CANNOT fathom that process. Talk about messy!) Even though I have those scenes in mind, I can't bring myself to enter them into the scene spreadsheet until everything that's supposed to come before them is there. Maybe I'll be able to push myself in that area with the next book, but not yet.
So I'm wracking my brain to come up with the right entry point into the story, but I think once I do the story will unfold pretty easily. My revised schedule for the rest of the year (I can't believe I'm planning out six months worth of work; I've never planned out more than a couple weeks at a time!) is as follows:
July 19: scene spreadsheet completed
August 2: First 10% of story completed
August 3-31: edit ReRa and work on marketing ideas
September 1: turn in ReRa to Cook Publishing
September: 1-30: write 20% more of story (30% cumulative) and complete marketing pack for book 4
October 1: turn in marketing pack to Zondervan
October 1-31: write 25% more on book 4 (55% cumulative), work on ReRa edits with editor
November 1-30: write 25% more on book 4 (80% cumulative), work on ReRa edits
December 1-31: complete book 4, work on ReRa edits
If I can stick to this, then I can set book 4 aside for all of January, start outlining book 5, and then come back to book 4 in February to edit before turning it in March 1. Am I completely insane for thinking I can do this? Especially given holidays, and travel, and parenting, and life in general? I don't know, truly. We'll see. Right now, however, I need to figure out my opening scene for the book--and my next move on Scrabulous. Kari is kicking my butt.