I’m Doing This Backwards

I’ve been working for several weeks on an idea for a novella. It started with an idea that wasn’t very “high-concept”, which I usually try to avoid. Before long I realized that all my favorite parts of the idea were the character bits—the parts that got me choked up just thinking about them.

This is not how I operate. I do hook first—always the hook first, so I know why anyone would even think about reading the story. I do not do character bits first.

Now I’m trying to retrofit this character arc onto an actual concept that can hold together a fantasy storyline people actually want to read. It’s brutal. I keep sitting down with my spiral and my 3x5s and cranking on mind maps and outlines every weekend until I think, “Yeah, that’s it, right?” But some tiny part of my brain always knows that’s not it. So I spend the work week mulling over the story, then sit down on Saturday determined to nail the outline for good this time.

And by the end of the weekend I think, “Yeah, that’s it, right?”

Nope.

Building a plot around character beats. Not the way I do things.