A Humiliating Confession

Here's a confession.  I suck at writing.

I'm really good at ideas and expression.  At my writers' group I have to pad my read times to leave a minute or two for people who are going to laugh outloud at my jokes.  I daresay I'm pretty good at characters (although terrible at villains.  I just can't see the point in being evil.  Strange, since so many other people are so good at it...)

But when it comes to taking all my ideas and characters and well-crafted phrases and turning them into a coherent manuscript with story beats and pacing and stuff... I suck.

My first successful sales were picture books because I can hold a 700 word manuscript in my head all at once.  But 100,000?  50,000?  Even 10,000 for a children's novel is too much.  I can muddle my way through, but the results are rarely completely satisfactory.

I'm also not very good at revising.  This presents a problem.

So I'm trying to address that problem.  I've tried several other times, and each attempt seems to produce a little improvement, but I'm still a long way from where I need to be.

I'm looking for a system to organize my thoughts and build a story.  I doubt I'll adopt Ms. Dodd's system entirely.  My suspicion is that there are zillions of these "how to write a novel" guides because there's no one way that works for everyone.  The best a would-be writing guru can do is to show you what worked for them.  (I'm jumping on the "them as a gender-neutral singular pronoun" bandwagon.  I fought against it for years, but then I remembered that gramatical conscriptivists are sticks in the mud and stinky goo-heads. [But I'm still trying not to use "hopefully" to mean "it is to be hoped." {Do I contradict myself?  Very well, thenI contradict myself.  I am vast.  I contain multitudes.}.].)

My latest effort is to read The Writer's Compass, by Nancy Ellen Dodd.  I've had this book for a while, and even skimmed it looking for ideas, but I never really read it.  I'm intrigued by the idea of a "story map."  I've tried lots of ways to visualize the structure of my novels, and haven't found one yet.

Here's to hoping.