So I've started writing (outlining/mapping, actually) what I'm sincerely hoping will become a novel and I think it would be a good exercise for me to track my progress on it here...if nothing else, it will force me to actually write, even if it's not writing for the story. In case you don't already know, it's centered around time travel, which is a concept that I've always been fascinated with.
Special thanks go out to Mindy on this, and her well-timed comment that directly caused me to take another look at an idea that I've been kicking around for almost a year now.
Disclaimer - this being the interwebz and all, I won't be doing any in-depth discussion of plotlines/characters/ideas here...I have no idea how long it will take me to actually write this, and I don't particularly want to walk into a bookstore and see my story on a shelf while I'm still working on it. Feel free to email me with questions though, and I'll be glad to discuss it with you, provided I trust you enough to not spread it around.
The story so far: There's a certain aspect of time travel stories that I've been really fixated on lately, which is the idea of things in the future only happening/being possible because someone from the future traveled back and made them possible. The whole Terminator storyline is a prime example of this...Skynet would never have been created if future Skynet hadn't sent Terminators back to try and kill John Connor (Cyberdyne finds the first one's remains and reverse engineers the technology), and John Connor never would have been around to fight them if they hadn't gone to the past, causing him to send his own father back to impregnate his mother. The entire machine uprising and war is a direct result of the machines trying to win the war. This is not what my story is about, just an inherent concept.
Currently happening: I've got the central tenet around which the story functions, and a good bunch of ideas branching off from that. Several scenes have formed themselves in my head the same way they have for short stories in the past, which I'm counting as a very good sign.
What I'm working on: I need a more solid view of who my protagonist(s) and antagonist(s) are. I've got some ideas in that direction, but nothing yet that feels quite right. I'm also still trying to get some concepts down on what the overall point/direction of the story will be...not necessarily an ending or resolution, but more of a rough bearing. Again, I've got some ideas to this end, but nothing that's really striking me quite right.
I'm also starting an honest-to-FSM outlining/brainstorming process on this (picture above, illegible on purpose). I've never really done this before, no matter how much it was requested/required in English classes in high school. Everything before this just popped into my head in a near-complete format...for those of you that remember the story about the guy who falls apart piece by piece, that story--start to finish--occurred to me in the shower...the zombie story I'm kicking around was the same way, but not in the shower.
This is too big though, too many ideas and sub-ideas branching off and taking me in different directions, and it's actually forcing me to get some of it down on paper before the words for it are actually there. Now that I think about it, this is what's really alien for me...while I don't have quite the gift of words as some people I know (I'm looking at you, Mark...and Mom...and George...and Kevin...and Patricia), I'm really used to being able to get my thoughts out in a fairly shiny and polished format most of the time. This process is forcing me to just spit it out on paper and refine it later, a tactic which I've ALWAYS been told to use, but never actually listened to.
Funny note: I'm sitting at the coffee shop writing this, and there's a guy on the porch wearing a shirt that says "Time is an invention." Coincidence?? I THINK NOT.
Plans: More mapping (the picture below) until I get a more solid idea where this story is headed. Fleshing out this idea concerning how the antagonist is working against the protagonist. Fleshing out who the hell the protagonist is, and what the hell is is they're doing, and why the antagonist would be working against them in the first place (isn't that supposed to come first?). Writing one of these at least once a week. Berate me publicly if I don't...