Jinwoo Chong on Taking Three Years to Outline His Novel (and Four Months to Draft It)
In Conversation with Brad Listi on Otherppl
Jinwoo Chong is the guest. His debut novel, Flux, is out now from Melville House.
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From the episode:
Jinwoo Chong: As a product of trying to cope with the complexity of what I was working with, and as I started playing with how to put the book together, certain elements—like the fictional TV show and the extra characters and the extra timelines—started to reveal themselves. I had to write it all down or else it would have made me go insane. It kind of made me go insane anyway. But still, it was more helpful than nothing. And so the outline took about three years to do.
Brad Listi: Three years.
Jinwoo Chong: Yeah. I wasn’t working on it every day, but I did work exclusively on it without writing a word of the draft for multiple years. And it was probably because I was a little nervous about starting it, and it became more and more daunting as the outline grew and grew. But also I wanted to make sure it was detailed enough that the writing of it was as not stressful as possible. I get very stressed out by blank pages and having to actually write sentences. Whatever I can do to mitigate that stress, I end up doing.
And so I wrote this draft in one window on the side of my computer, and then the other window had my outline open at all times, and I was just kind of zooming back and forth between those two. I think it worked out because the writing of the draft actually took about four months. It was intense and fast, but it was a lot easier than writing the outline was.
Jinwoo Chong received an MFA from Columbia University. His short stories have appeared in The Southern Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, and Salamander. Flux is his first novel. He lives in New York.