I’ll admit, the first two novels I wrote, I pantsed the entire things. I didn’t know who the villains were or where the story was going. And these things are a mess. One I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to that world, it does have possibilities but it will be a scrap and rewrite. Just like the novel I’m working on now.
Project 2 is a rewrite of a novel I wrote about 8 years ago. This week I read through the first draft cringing at my main character and the way she doesn’t have any agency in what happens. Nothing actually happens in that draft. No character growth, no real movement in what happens. There’re a few decent action scenes but the rest is a jumbled mess.
I started rewriting it a few weeks ago and once I hit chapter 3 I began to get mired down. I had a road map kind of outline that hit the high points of the storyline and thought that would be enough to get me through. After all, it was working on short stories.
Ha Ha Ha… nope
Subconsciously, I think I knew things were wrong that’s why I got bogged down. Pushing through it was just not working.
Then yesterday I read an article on outlining by scenes. Something clicked and I sat down (after my freelance work) and started from the beginning. It became clear that I was skipping steps in the story that was needed to build tension and character. By the time I went to bed I had 7 scenes outlined and had broadened the story line. This morning I outlined 7 more.
The process I’m using is a basic Who, When, Where, Why, What Happens and Consequences format. I’m hand writing this all out and then when I’m finished I’ll type that up into scene pages.
I start with the Where: where this scene takes place
Then go to Who: who is in the scene
Then When: how long it happens after the last scene
Next is Why: Why is this scene important. Sometimes this is author notes but mostly it’s inner dialog of the characters.
What happens is next and I give a rough detail of what the characters do, say and how things progress
Last is the Consequences. Sometimes it’s pretty clear as to what the characters are going to do but sometimes I’m leaving it open for another choice down the line. And yes I’m leaving room for some major screw ups by the character.
This kind of outlining is a new process for me. Something I thought I’d never do, but this series is going to demand some careful planning. There’s going to be hints of things that will come into fruition down the line. Book 1 won’t have a lot of it as it’s establishing charcter, world and such, but Book 2 will have more. Book 3 will have a major reveal. But all of it has to be planned carefully.
So after more freelance work, I’ll go back to more outlining tonight. Possibly getting through most of this novel tonight.