My “Week in Review” posts have sputtered a bit in the last couple of weeks, mainly because there’s been nothing to report. I’ve made little word count progress on any fiction goals, though a very active set of roleplaying games has kept me writing an amount that I consider respectable. Still, that doesn’t mean I want to abandon fiction, or stop reflecting on my projects.
On the games side, I’ve been writing material for two Apocalypse World-based games, one using Apocalypse World and the other using Urban Shadows. The games’ structure has encouraged me to write a lot of material, and the more I use the mechanics in the games to organize conflict (Fronts in Apocalypse World, Storms in Urban Shadows), the more useful I find them. I’m also trying to write a fantasy setting for a future game, but the more I write the less I’m actually sure what style and feel of game I want to go for. I plan on struggling with my ideas a bit more, as well as polling my players to get some other thoughts.
On the fiction side, outlining has been a dead end. For the Fratricide rewrite, admittedly, it gave me a lot of insight into what’s missing and where to fill things in, but I keep running into issues of how badly organized my notes were from when I wrote the first draft. I have two sources: the original manuscript and about 20-30 pages of handwritten notes in a Moleskine that’s currently sitting on my bedside table. Rereading and reorganizing all my notes has seemed like a grind, so I just haven’t done it yet.
For the new story, trying to start an outline has revealed to me that I have no idea about what the story looks like yet. I have a character envisioned, as well as a setting, which are good places to start, but do not a novel make. I need to figure out why the character feels the way he does, and what conflict that’s going to lead him into. And oh yeah, figure out why that’s a compelling story for me to tell. I almost feel like I should write the exposition, then go back and outline the rest of the novel once I’ve let the main character tell me some things about the world he lives in. And even writing that makes me feel like an art school hippie…but it is how I feel.
This may be why it’s so important to write these “week in review” things. After actually getting my thoughts out in text, the last couple weeks were more productive than I thought. Still not much in the way of buckling down, but I have ideas and I’m moving forward with them at least incrementally. As summer gets less busy I may be able to make more and discernible progress.