Some of my writing friends are seduced into creating worlds, establishing characters’ backstories, making maps, collecting pictures and doing internet research. The actual writing of novel is postponed or even ignored. My approach has been: 1) do research, 2) make an outline, 3) hammer out the first draft, 4) start revising. While I’ve used this approach to finish several manuscripts, none of them was deemed to be something that anyone would want to read.
My current project started the same way, then got stuck in plot logjam, exacerbated by being told by one of the industry’s foremost editors that not one aspect of a previous manuscript worked – in any way. This summer, I’ve accomplished little. I’m not writing, although I occasionally write about writing. Some days, this is nothing more than a list of the manuscript’s problems. On better days, I add a few solutions. I’ve done enough research to know there is much more to discover. I’ve made mini-graphic novels for difficult scenes. I’ve written countless pages titled, “What If?” in which I brainstorm alternatives.
I can’t tell if this approach is going to work, but right now, it’s the best I can do.