I think outlining is hard. I said it. I need it, but it ties me up in knots. I’m about 40,000 words into my WIP and I’m still taking off a few days every week or so to toy with the outline. A suggestion from my genius sister finally helped make this outline into something I can hold on to. She told me to put it in the voice of my main character, from her perspective. Then, she said, “If your character spits the line of text back in your face, you’ll know if wasn’t really something she would think, say, or do.” This worked amazingly for me. Want a peak at what I wrote tonight?
I’m sixteen and pregnant. My mother says not for long, but she’s crazy if she thinks I’m getting an abortion just because when she was a pregnant teenager she kept me—and always regretted it. One look at the ultrasound and I know I can’t go through with it. There is a tiny person waving a miniature hand at me, and I could be looking at myself, all those years ago. Mom will be too busy drinking to notice anyway.
I make the mistake of telling my boyfriend, Johnny. He says there’s no way the baby is his. Walks away from me while I crumple into a ball behind Burger Boy. Then the idiot tells the whole school on Facebook. So, now all my friends think his lies are truth—that I’m pregnant because I cheated on him. Then my best friend Brielle’s mom tells my mom everything and she blows up—kicks me out with nowhere to go. If it weren’t for my former dance teacher Julie taking me in to live with her, I’d be sleeping in a women’s shelter, headed for foster care. This world is seriously screwed up, because Julie has never been able to have children, while I’m apparently too stupid to keep from getting pregnant.
I’ve lost most of my friends to Team Johnny. I’ve had to give up dance and cheer. And with my body stretching and swelling to the approximate proportions of a whale, it’s lucky for me I have Evan, my coworker at Burger Boy. He’s the only person who doesn’t look at my belly first, these days; seems to really see me.
Then stupid Brielle and Johnny start dating, which turns my ginormous stomach. And when Julie miscarries after her last try at in vitro, I worry just a little bit that adopting my baby is the only reason she’s letting me stay. I go home to see if moving back in with Mom is an option now that she’s cooled off, but apparently her cooling-off process involved moving without leaving me so much as a forwarding address.
Beer. Beer suddenly seems like a good idea, so I have a couple of drinks at the party where Evan’s band is playing. Stupid? Whatever. I just don’t want to think anymore. Good thing I have Evan and Julie to do my thinking for me. Acting all disappointed in me, Evan drags me home to Julie, who decides to get all parental all of a sudden. I can stay with her until the end of the pregnancy, but only if I do nothing illegal, immoral, or harmful to myself—or more importantly, the baby. By the time the buzz has worn off, I can see that they’re right—not like I’ll admit that to them.
The next day I go to my twenty-week ultrasound. And I see that baby. That perfect little tiny person. It’s a girl. I’m going to have a girl. I will name her something awesome. A strong name for a strong girl who will never be dumb enough to have sex without protection just because her boyfriend tells her it will feel better. Samantha. Looking at her, I realize something amazing. I don’t have to wait to find a guy who will love me for me, or hold out the crazy hope that someday I’ll have a mother who’s not too busy being broken to love me. I have the baby. She’s beautiful. She’s perfect. And she’s mine. She will love me the most, put me first, and be all the family I’ll ever need.
If only it were that simple and I could skip right to the perfect ending. Julie’s bossing me around these days, getting all serious with curfews and chores and “natural consequences.”
And Evan’s confusing me by being way more attractive and less nerdy than I thought at first. Which makes me think of dizzying possibilities for how to support myself and Samantha with nothing but a minimum wage fast food job, a high school sophomore education, and a desperate hope that my baby will fix the broken parts of me.
The twenty remaining weeks of my pregnancy are plenty of time to figure out how all this is going to work, aren’t they?
Mwahahahaha… Of course that’s all you get, right now. Just up to the midpoint—when Tessa’s reaction turns to action. The moment where she thinks she knows everything she needs and starts to plan to get it. If you want more you have to read the book.
Well… I have to write the book and then my agent has to love it and pitch it and sell it and someone has to publish it. And then you have to read it… please.
Now that I’m happy with my outline, I’ve got to get my nose back to the grindstone and keep cranking out prose for my self-imposed deadline in May.
But first I have to sleep. As for the book, like Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”