Trying A New Tool

One of the things that any creative has to be careful about is trying out new tools. Let’s face it-90% of creative people have some form of neurosis and the remainder are able to hide it really well. And, one of these neurosis is about our tools. I’ve met people that have patched up, repaired, fixed, taped, epoxied, puttied, and eventually started to haunt estate sales and eBay because they had one particular kind of mechanical pencil that they used and “nothing else works right for me.”

Bit of Dumbo’s Magic Feather? Entirely possible and it’s also possible that it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. Entirely possible that the ergonomics of that pencil have always worked better for him-or just that he’s gotten so used to it that everything else feels off. And, “feeling off” is sometimes one of the things that really throws a creative person off of their game. Sometimes to the point of not going somewhere with a project because it would require them to learn how to use a new tool…and then the neurosis hits again.

(My particular neurosis is the “not good enough” one. Not quite the perfectionist, but this fear that the point of translation between my imagination and the page is missing something and I need to go back and add that one more thing. And, creating things in my head, whole backstories that nobody will probably ever see…a series bible for TV or streaming would be insane by most standards, each A- and B-list character would have a massive biography and books and references…)

But, there’s also that point where you hit a wall and realize that the current tools aren’t going to help you any. This is why I’m learning a tool early-outlining.

How I usually write is what I call “checkpoint plotting.” It works like this-my stories have a number of checkpoints that I want to hit when I’m writing my story. I have a general idea when and where I want to get to that checkpoint. Just, sometimes I get hit by a plot idea or concept that is just so pretty…and I wander off the beaten path. And, come back as quickly as I can…but sometimes I find interesting things when I go off the beaten path.

Or, I have to spray for ticks.

But, A Solist In Rome and this new idea that won’t let go in my head is going to require me to stay closer to the road. So, that means I’m breaking out a new tool-an outline.

This is where everybody suggests a writing tool of one sort or another. Right now…not going to go that far. It’s really just a simple outline in Word as a prototype. First level is chapter headers. Second level is the main points where I want to go with this chapter. And, third level is what I call my “fluff”-little additional details that I want to add and follow up on.

I spent most of yesterday writing it, and I’m about a quarter of the way through my first outline for this second series that I’m working on. Today or tomorrow, I might get started on the A Solist In Rome (because it’s going to primarily first person with several second person callouts), so I need to keep tight track of where the story is going.

Back to the writing mines I go…and, we’ll see if this new tool helps any.

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