Building Worlds, Backstories, and Outlines, oh my

I don’t think it was quite two weeks back that I made my grandiose statement about persevering.  In that post, I was trying to decide if I should work on other projects while pursuing my novel, or just focus on the novel.

Long story short, I decided to stay the course.

The day before yesterday, I decided not to.  I’m closing the files on that one and pausing the project.  I’m shelving it.  I like my characters, and I like the general theme of the story… But the events in the first half of the book are boring.  It was built to provide back-story for a board/card game that I’m co-creating.

1) It’s about 70,000 words along, and will take a major re-write just to make it passable… Not counting the rewrites I’ll do just because it’s a first draft.
2) There’s holes in the story that a small legion of trucks can drive through.

I’ll come back to it, but I think it needs to go dormant for now.

In the meantime, I’m onto my new story.  This is a story that’s been floating around in my head for the better part of the year, and best of all, it’s actually already a few steps past “my head.”  I originally used Randy Ingermanson’s snowflake method to flesh out an outline, and had about 10 pages of notes already put together.  That makes me feel somewhat better.  I also don’t intend to change any of my deadlines previously set.  (Complete by end of September).

Which brings us to now.  So, to speed the draft writing process along, I’ve been doing some outlining.  I’ll throw a post later about Plotting vs Pantsing, but we’ll just go with I’m a plotter for now.

I’ve decided to dust off a few of the outline tools that I thought might be helpful:
Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy – A little dated, but great reminders about key elements of world-building.
K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel – Very fast read, and full of great techniques, although she’s a little too pen&paper for me to truly dive in.

These books are really focused on making sure you take time to think of the world you are writing in, think of the plot you are trying to create, and think of the characters you are fleshing out.

In concept, I should be able to make time back, but I won’t lie… I’ve written 5,000 words over the last 48 hours solely on the outline, and it can be demoralizing knowing that those aren’t going into my final word count.  In the meantime, I’ll push forward with some character interviews, some detailed setting/backdrop framework, and then drop my plot on top.

We’ll see how it goes!  Do you use outlines?  Do you know any good material on building them?


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