I’m thrilled to have just finished writing the first complete draft of my debut psychological thriller, and novella, “Sheer Panic.” Although I had already started writing this story with no outline, and not knowing how it would progress, I decided to stop and get the outline down.
Here’s the start of it.
1. Tori avoids Roderick, ‘the Freak’ as she enters the cafeteria at college. He has been harassing her for a while and she is afraid to report him, in case he retaliates. (Here’s where I know I should make a new chapter — each chapter should be one scene.) Later, Dorky Dorian tries to flirt with her when she is putting her stuff into her locker. Her friend Janet tells her she’s weird because she has opted not to go to Panama City Beach at Spring Break. Instead, she has agreed to babysit her niece so her sister can go. She never discusses the real reason she is afraid to go with her friends.
2. One afternoon when Tori is taking her neighbor’s dog, Panda, for a walk in the park, Dorky Dorian tries to force himself on her and the dog attacks him. Panda’s owner, Mrs. Stanley tells Tori she should get a dog of her own for protection. Tori reflects on her love life. She knows it’s a total disaster, and if she had a steady boyfriend the weird men would leave her alone.
3. Tori is friended on Facebook by Lance, the boy she chased at high school to no avail. Although it seems a little odd that he has suddenly had a change of heart, and decided to pursue a relationship with her, she is still totally smitten with him, and she goes along with it. She hopes it will turn into something serious, and take her mind off the stolen kiss with her sister’s boyfriend, Dan that has been plaguing her. (This scene needs something to make it more exciting.)
4. Tori takes her niece, Shari horse riding and sexy Joaquim …. etc.
Once I had completed the outline, it was easy to write the story, although it’s still in the first draft rough format. I found that I deviated a little from the outline when I came up with a better idea, and as I went along, I changed the outline at times. I love the finished draft.
Here are some other things James talked about in his videos:
- First lines — We all know it is essential to capture your audience right away, yet so many writers start with something mundane and boring. Mine is: “I just don’t get why your love life is such a total mess,” Janet said. “It’s just not right. It’s not that hard. You must be the only nineteen-year-old in the whole school who isn’t getting laid.”
- Be yourself. Imagine you’re sitting across the table from your best friend telling them the story of a movie you watched. If you wouldn’t use pompous and puffed up language and fancy words when speaking to them, you shouldn’t be using them in your writing.
- Try writing a couple of different endings. Make them as outrageous as you can. I did this and absolutely loved the new one I came up with. It was far more exciting than the original ending.
- Try writing the same piece in the POV of more than one character. You could fall in love with a version you never thought about before.
- Don’t be afraid to break the rules. Whatever works for you is okay. We’re all different, and so are our readers.
- Do your research. Don’t just wing it. You must know what you are writing about to build credibility.
- Don’t be afraid to rewrite if it doesn’t feel right to you.
More in my next post.