Flying the Gullfire Over Leningrad

I made the mistake of following through on some writing advice, it was given to me by a well-read friend.

When I explained how I outlined each scene, before writing a novel, she exclaimed such a thing takes the fun out of being creative. (I don’t know if she speaks like this, but she types like this.). She advised me to just sit down and write the story, as it comes to me.

I sat down and wrote out Holodomor, without following an outline (one was written, but for the sake of this experiment, I ignored it) . I let my fingers do the talking for my brain, making up dialog and scenes, as they came to me. I finished this book in less than a month–so jazzed about that! I put it away (about a year or two, life was busy) and went back to it, last month.

I’m not capable of just sitting down, and letting the story come out of me.

The revisions for this book are a nightmare. I’ve actively avoided working on it, until today. I write from the head of, a set number of characters–I never go over four characters, if I can help it (I also don’t head-hop within a chapter, please!). Writing freely put me in the heads of characters I didn’t even care about. They played no real part in this novel’s outcome. Flashbacks appear where they aren’t needed, and perspectives took the plot nowhere.

Original Outline:  Holodomor is two stories running parallel, each is tangibly related due to Eppis Banto and Ilo Cux, as these are the characters you’re getting some deep info from. Sofita factors in because of her mission, and Dox, because of where she ends up at the end of the book, and how it affects Sofita. Two chapters put us in the heads of the antagonists.

Novel I Wrote: Holodomor is 70k words and eighteen characters of pure tripe. Eppis and Ilo’s sacrificial karma isn’t compelling enough, the Slavs are marginally interesting, and Sofita finishes another cool ass mission (hey, that’s two chapters!) and what the fuck happened to Dox (hey, the cliffhanger works!).


After restructuring whose heads I’m in, things got better. The closing chapters lead to the next book, and those chapters can be told from the perspective of characters that will make their mark, later in the series.

Chapters will be butchered, some scenes combined, and many scenes cut…

Never again will I write a novel, without my scene outlines!


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