I’ve talked before about how I outline all my stories in advance so that I have a very specific framework before I start writing the first draft. I also have mentioned that I already had the whole Teshovar series planned before I ever began writing the first book. Having that amount of pre-planning obviously takes a lot of time and effort, but getting everything figured out ahead of time is the best way I’ve found to keep the actual writing process moving along quickly, and it also minimizes the amount of time I need to spend revising and editing after I’ve finished the first draft. I know a lot of writers prefer to fly by the seat of their pants and make everything up as they go, and I am in awe of anyone who can do that successfully. Outlining is what works for me, so that’s what I’ve stuck with.
I also mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had to pause my NaNoWriMo writing progress this month because I needed to make some revisions to the structure of Teshovar Book 2. Afterwards, I was asked how that would impact what I already had planned for that book and for the overall series. In short, this kind of revision doesn’t change anything about the overall book or the series as a whole. All the same events are still happening to the same characters and in the same places. The only thing that has changed is that I figured out a better and more interesting way to describe those events in the early parts of Book 2 than I originally had planned to describe them.
There really are two levels to my outlining and planning process. The first involves laying out the story itself, and that includes deciding what should happen with all the key characters, places, and milestone events, as well as why those things should happen, when they should occur, and what their repercussions will be. That’s the sort of big outline I put together for the series as a whole, and it lets me know what I should be foreshadowing and building toward from one book to the next. This level of outlining produces a kind of “series bible” that is unlikely to change much, if at all. Of course, if I realize the series would benefit from making changes at that level, I’ll gladly make those changes. I haven’t changed anything there yet, though, and I don’t imagine there will be many significant alterations from now until I finish that final book.
The other level of outlining is done on a book-by-book basis, and those outlines are much more fluid. They start with a general layout of what I already know needs to happen in that given book, based on what I previously put into the plan for the series. When I outline each book, I separate the big events into parts, and then I split those parts into chapters. Eventually, I split the chapters into scenes, and I end up with an extremely detailed document about the book I’m about to write. The main focus of creating that outline is on making sure the book’s pacing matches my vision, while making sure I include all the developments I need in order to keep the series moving along. A big part of that involves deciding what character should have the point of view in each chapter or scene.
I often make changes to the book outline as I write, and that’s the kind of revision I spent part of this month doing for Book 2. The result is that I now am working with an outline that’s around 35 pages long (single spaced), describing 132 scenes spread across 50 chapters, with 8 viewpoint characters. Taking the time to make that big revision was necessary, but it absolutely is going to make me miss my 50,000-words goal for November. The funny thing is that my writing pace picked up significantly after I locked in this new version of the outline, and it’s likely I’ll write 50,000 words in December after I’ve stopped tracking my daily word counts.