As I sit down and begin to think over the outline for my book, frightening thoughts creep into my mind. What do I include? The basics; that is all I needed, my name, rank, serial number and nothing else, no matter what they promised. No wait, that is the wrong thing but almost as scary as the task in front of me. I was lost and wasn’t sure where to begin. I started by doing a search on the internet. Do you realize just how many different types of templates pop up on a Google search? I had my work cut out for me, so I started wading through the pages like a soldier in the mud… during a torrential rainstorm… in a jungle…in the dead of night. To make it worse there wasn’t an agent in sight. How was I supposed to know which of the thousands of tutorials and examples to use? Which one would make me stand out?
Finally, I took a deep breath, ate my courage and jumped into the foxhole. It turns out many of the tools I needed to survive the night were already provided with my own history. I had it with me the whole time. I knew my title, I knew where it was taking place and how to get in contact with the characters. After all, my prey was someone I already knew better than anyone did. All I had to do was draw the map for the general or more importantly my new publisher.
I found pieces here and there that I liked in other templates and layouts, but they weren't the one example that I really wanted? You know the one I am talking about. It's the one where lights from heaven shine and angels sing in your head when it’s found.
I decided to take the parts that I did like from others and incorporate them into my own. Essentially, I created Frankenstein’s template…Its Alive!
Now that I had an idea for the layout, I thought the hard part was over, but my struggles were just beginning. The monster began to run wild across the countryside. The basics expanded and what was once a half page sad beginning begging for some pity, quickly turned into what needs to be left out. I had to have my characters in there. I crossed out the first line. “This story has the most awesome, characters ever.” Sure, it was a compromise but I had to get rid of everything except what was absolutely needed. If I didn’t there was a good chance the movie studios wouldn’t be banging down my door to turn my chapter list into the next Oscar winning script.
That was a little more difficult than I imagined but I finally managed to trim the fat off the steak. I was more than halfway there by now and only 697 hours into it. I felt a real sense of accomplishment…and then it happened.
I realized I had broken the cardinal sin of a writing; I didn’t have an ending! I panicked, pulled my hair out and felt defeated. After what seemed like hours of stress and a visit to the hospital for a heart attack, I sat back down to do even more research. Was it okay to have a novel without an ending? do publishers mind as much as I had heard they do? All my life I was told an publisher would drag you to the guillotine if you didn’t have an ending. “Off with his head, off with his head”, the crowd cheered as they watched my execution.
Once I dragged myself from my own execution, I was able to find some information. With a sigh of relief, I realized I was all right. Everything was working out and I wasn’t just stumbling along anymore I was almost finished. All that was left to do now was incorporate all the information I decided to keep and add a creative touch of my own. An added line here, spacing there and it took shape.
At last I was done, it was finished. My first outline sat in front of me gleaming in the light of Microsoft word, it was hypnotic, beautiful. I now know what Gollum felt like with the one ring. I stared at “my precious” and stood at the edge of Mount Doom to throw it in with the hope that all will be well in the end.