Sunday, September 1, 2013

GYDO: Jordana Frankel

Jordana Frankel, Author of The Ward

Outlining: A Love-Hate Relationship

Oh, how I envy authors who can just write without an outline. Every time they pick up their WIP, it's like an adventure. I know! I tried with early drafts of THE WARD- and ended up with 125 pages of swashbuckling nonsense, no real plot though. I had one in mind, I really did, but I just sort of wove it in whenever it felt like it belonged. And by "wove it in," I mean that I just suggested that there may be a plot, if you kept reading. I knew this was bad, but I figured that if I kept truckin', I would figure out what the sitch was.

And the writing was so fun! I *never* knew what my main characters were going to do. They could kiss! They could punch each other! I was constantly surprising myself. They were constantly surprising me - and each other. It. Was. Awesome.

And then, by way of some really unforeseen variables and some obscene luck, I had an editor interested in the project. Of course, the plot needed work (read: needed a plot). And so I had to start thinking, and hard.

There was an outline. It was a sketch, but suddenly it gave my WIP "through signs" as Micol Ostow(former writing instructor and author extraordinare) said. And she was right. The outlining was a good, good thing.

But. BUT.

I went back to work on the WIP, and suddenly, no one was surprising me.

I felt like I was just writing them to do things, and they - goshdarned it - were LISTENING to me. NO! That's not how it's supposed to work. My characters THEY DO WAT THEY WANT.

And in a way, they were doing what they wanted. But it was also what I needed for them to do. In order for this WIP to actually function, they couldn't just be acting all willynilly. So I understood, I got it, but I had to admit, some of the starry eyes I had for them were, well, just less starry (wait, happy ending approaches).

Until I realized something.

They WERE still surprising me. It was just in an entirely different way. If I were writing them according to the outline, they would be so boring! Suddenly my MC was punching out a bouncer, getting punched back, going nuts in a waiting room. Nothing I had foreseen. The starry eyes were back. I needed to look for the moments and opportunities and allow my characters leeway to feel whatever they were feeling. And then act accordingly.

Basically, I realized that in order for me to keep the starry eyes I have for this project, I needed to constantly be learning something or surprised by my characters - in ways that the outline just can't provide. And if it did, if I had thought out all this stuff in advance, I would be sad. So even if some of what I write doesn't make it into the final ms - that's okay. I'm writing the things I need to write in order to stay in love with the book. And now, I'll even gloss over certain parts in the outline because I have a hunch that something awesome will happen if I let it.

And because it's also apropos depending on the day:

The Ward Blurb
Sixteen-year-old Ren is a daredevil mobile racer who will risk everything to survive in the Ward, what remains of a water-logged Manhattan. To save her sister, who is suffering from a deadly illness thought to be caused by years of pollution, Ren accepts a secret mission from the government: to search for a freshwater source in the Ward, with the hope of it leading to a cure.
However, she never expects that her search will lead to dangerous encounters with a passionate young scientist; a web of deceit and lies; and an earth-shattering mystery that’s lurking deep beneath the water’s rippling surface.

Author Bio
Jordana Frankel is a creative-writing instructor at Writopia Lab and a former marketing associate at the Book Report Network. She received her BA from Goucher College and an MFA in creative writing from Hollins University. She currently lives in New York City. The Ward is her first novel.



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