I finally made a breakthrough today. I have been trying and trying to plot this... plot. Something had me stumped. The reader needs to experience the chain of events, the growth of the characters, and the feeling of a new galaxy all at the same time. This means completing an outline of character arcs, moral growth, and worldbuilding exposition. No one likes an info dump so important information should be spread throughout the novel. At the advice of my writing coach, I created a full picture of my story down to the moments when I will tell my readers the secrets of my universe.
To give you a better idea of what you are seeing, each of the boxes above represents a scene in the novel. Within each box is a summary of what happens and a card noting important information like character weaknesses or realizations.
This is what success looks like to me today. It is not the final plot outline, but it is the closest I have come. I sense there will be a few additional scenes since a work in progress is never perfect. Regardless, I am happy with this. I am ecstatic and over the moon that I have managed to finally create the entire story as it will be written.
The benefit of this is I will now have the freedom to draft and draft and draft all the way to the end. There will be less confusion and desire to edit while I write, due to the work being completed up front. (Never mind the fact that I have drafted the story three times without doing this. I am still counting this as up front since the plot has changed each time. Don't judge me.)
Why is this important to me? Have you ever watched a really awesome Indie film, or "Budget" movie and fallen in love with the story, but not necessarily with the acting or the score? I love stories, and therefore I love movies. I watch all kinds of movies. On occasion I see one and think, "What a fantastic story, but I wish they had a better director or bigger budget." It somehow felt "cheap" or unpolished. It was hard to get lost in the story because either the acting or the writing was mediocre. This is my biggest fear. Obviously there will be criticism no matter what is produced, but I hate to create something that falls short of my own expectations for a well executed story. Going through these steps and working with a writing coach are my own ways to make my story the best it can be. There is no doubt that this is a phenomenal story. I just need to make sure the writing matches.