I have been trying for years to get a full book out of me. I haven't even made it to queries. And last night, I figured out why I've been having so many problems. I need to do OUTLINES!
I used to think that free forming was the best way to write, and it could be for some people - probably only seasoned writers. I've started my book with 10 different first chapters because I couldn't figure out the best sequence of events. Or the chapter I would be writing would end up having no reason to be in the book, and so 6,500 words fall to the mighty red pen of the editor. Even worse - I would get off on some ridiculous tangent and end up ranting about how people don't understand other people and how tolerance blah blah blah. I believe that tolerance is important, but does the protagonist really need to be seen tolerating a bad cut of meat from the butcher?
So for no particular reason other than it just happened, I started outlining the story I've been trying to tell for the last three years. And do you know what? It MAKES SENSE!!! Without having to worry about transition scenes, how exactly a conversation goes, or descriptive passages, I can get down to the meat of the story and figure out where the hell I was headed in the first place. I can actually see how one thing leads to another, and how my random subplots can actually work and weave themselves into a decent conclusion and what have you.
I feel so much less stress now that I have an idea of what I was doing. The best part? At least half of the 1st chapters I've written can be edited, reworked, and placed in different sections of the book. All I have to do is finish the plot outline, work on my main character outlines (the protagonist is admittedly flat at this point), and then I can get to work on fleshing out the story. It sounds like a lot of work, and well, it is. But its SO worth it - you'll see ;). Of to work I go!