Outlining and Exposition

So I’m 11,000 words into my latest novel, the first novel I’ve started since completing my first and only novel in 1999, and I realize I have to stop and rethink it all.  It’s flawed, and it’s suffering from two major problems:

  1. Lack of an outline
  2. Too much exposition

I have notes, don’t get me wrong, and a basic idea of how I want the story to go.  But by skipping the step of creating a decent outline, an outline detailing the major sequences of the book chapter by chapter, the story is starting to meander.  As a result I’m now cutting and rewriting as I go, backtracking and losing momentum.

I also have noticed that I’m using too much exposition.  For example, my main character is a divorced man in his late thirties who moves to a new town to start over again.  I’ve spent way too much time explaining the whole history.  This is boring; no wonder I was falling asleep while I wrote it.

I also have a serial killer in this book who information dumped all over the car he was sitting in.

Not only that, but because I don’t have a solid outline I’m rethinking exactly what this serial killer does and why he’s important.  That’s not good, because I don’t know what role he plays.

There’s a supernatural element in this book too but I don’t have a plan on exactly how I want to use it.

So my story is clearly suffering and, as a result, I’m struggling to write it.

There’s only one way to fix this.  First, I stop writing.  No use digging myself deeper into this hole.  Next I finish my damn outline.  Once I have the outline I’ll have the framework for the story down and the rest will be filling in the details.

After that I cut the exposition.  Upon a secondary reading it’s clear to me now that this information is superfluous and, worst of all, boring.

So it’s back to the drawing board.  I’m going to give myself a week to get the outline finished up and then see where that takes me.


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