Friday, May 18, 2012

Even With An Outline, Things Still Manage To Sneak In

I've probably mentioned before I'm writing a book. Right now I'm about nine chapters in and over 20,000 words written in the last 4 weeks, which for me is a good pace. Fast enough that I'm getting words on the page but not so fast I feel overstressed. It's working.

I'm an outliner when it comes to writing, meaning for anything over a short-story, (and sometimes for those), I start by putting together a detailed outline for each chapter down to the scene level. So you'd expect that writing the book after that would just be filling in the blanks, so to speak.

Well, no. And here's why.

Even with an outline, my writing process is still pretty fluid. As I go along, especially this early in the project, I'm finding scenes I don't need that I plotted and cutting them out, scenes that I'd put in later need to be moved forward a bit, and material I never expected to fit in sliding into the most unexpected places.

Let me give you an example along with a bit of background on the book.

My main character is going to be an eastern-style, Shaolin-and-Japanese-Buddhist-influenced monk, and the order he's in shave their heads. My character being a curious sort, he asks why and the monk teaching him answers. Seems reasonable, right? What I didn't expect was that the answer that made the most sense, to me at least, ended up dragging in some background material that I didn't think would fit because a lot if it involves the different "races" I'd created to fill the empire that surrounds the tiny section of land my story takes place on. Characters of those differing ethnicity are unlikely to come up as the section of the world my story is set in is rather homogenous and were more or less created when I was world-building because I wanted a diverse population inside my fictional creation, but still, it's nice to know they're out there.

(How diverse things will be still remains to be seen. If this turns into a series, editors and publishers willing, the second book will have a much more diverse cast as the main character moves on to a wider world.)

It remains to be seen whether or not this scene will survive in its current form when I go to edit the book later on and if (hopefully when) I get editing requests from an editor prior to publication. I hope it does, as I think it builds on the world and gives it depth and has is a great piece of showing how a certain character thinks without drubbing the reader over the head.

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