I was hoping to have finished my prep work on my next novel by now, but I’m still not quite there. Sometimes life intervenes with our plans. Stuff like work, taking my kid to the doctor, and changing burnt out headlights on my car just seem to happen randomly. Nonetheless, I have made great progress.
I went through all my major and minor characters and “interviewed” them. This is always fun because I learn a lot about them, and they start speaking to me in their own voices. After this I started the process of expanding the list of scenes / chapters which I had painstakingly created after a great deal of brainstorming.
This basic outline had 39 single-sentence bullet points, one per scene, totalling essentially one full single-spaced page. My goal was to expand each of these one-liners into a paragraph of maybe five to ten sentences. Adding this extra bit of detail to my basic thoughts works wonders to tease out deeper ideas and to discover plot gotchas early on.
As of now, I have turned that one page into fourteen pages of detail, and I’m only halfway through the outline. Most of these scenes expanded to the anticipated paragraph length. A couple grew to almost a full page each, and one clocked in at four pages. That particular scene has a lot of crucial details in it that will end up driving the rest of the plot, so I really wanted to get all my ideas down in black and white before carrying on.
I’d like to move faster on this, but at the same time I don’t want to rush it. This is a book I’ve been wanting to write for many many Earth years, so it’s very exciting to actually see it emerge before my eyes. My current estimate of when I’ll complete this process is … about another week. After I finish the detailed outline, I have a few more to-do items, which I think really help to make the scenes crisp and exciting for readers.
Stay tuned …
For the next 20 days (through 11/26/2013), you can download a FREE copy of my suspense novel Sierra Girls from the Story Cartel web site. Then, if you write an honest review of the book, you will have a chance to win one of three $10 Amazon gift cards that I’ll be giving away as prizes.
Why am I doing this? Pretty simple. Nowadays the primary way people choose to buy e-books is by reading the reviews of others who have read the same book. This is true for just about anything you buy, online or offline. Because of this, I as an author am trying to find creative ways to encourage people to read and then to review my novel.
So, if you like to read AMAZING Suspense / Thrillers, you have nothing to lose with this deal. Go right now. CLICK HERE! Download the book. Read it. Love it. And post an honest write-up about your experience. Seriously, go do it.
Why are you still reading this?
I hope everyone had a great Halloween! I think November should be declared national Dental Checkup month.
For anyone interested, my debut suspense thriller Sierra Girls is gradually building up a readership. I’m clocking in quite a few sales, many more on Amazon than on Smashwords. However, the book has finally made it into the Smashwords premium catalog, which means that it is now being distributed to many different ebook vendors, including Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Page Foundry, and Oyster. It will take some time before it is really available in these different systems. It is also due to be distributed to Sony, Diesel, Baker & Taylor Blio, Baker-Taylor Axis360, and Flipkart. There is also a distribution channel called Library Direct, which libraries use to buy ebooks to lend to their patrons. Honestly, I haven’t heard of half of these places, but I will be watching them now to see when Sierra Girls gets listed for sale. Stay tuned.
A quick update on Sierra Girls: I received a very helpful review from a reader named Brandy Dresher. I was already in the process of updating the book to make it look better on Kindle devices, so I included a few quick tweaks based on her feedback. These types of small details really help the overall impression for readers. Thanks, Brandy! The book looks much nicer now, and I have pushed this new version to Amazon and to Smashwords. Please go read the free sample chapters and see if you like it.
I made some more progress over the weekend on my book prep for the next novel. Nearly done with this stage. Spending more time getting to know the main characters has been fun and beneficial. Still have one more stage after this, which will be fleshing out the story outline a bit more. Then, finally, I’m going to set sail toward my destination, which is somewhere far over the horizon. But at least I’ll have some stars to steer by. It will be a wonderful feeling to get the manuscript under way.
I’ve made it past the first major hurdle in my planning phase. I have a working outline of scenes, and the set of POV characters through which I’m going to tell the story. If past performance is any indication of future results, then this list of scenes will change significantly before I’m done with the first draft. But … gotta start somewhere.
My next task, which I hope to complete this weekend is to flesh out all of the characters, major and minor, by doing write-ups on each one. I already know the main characters well, but I want to elaborate even more on each of them. And I want to have a good set of personalities for all the supporting characters.
As I explained in the last update, I already have a vast history of this story-world laid out in quite a bit of detail, so I don’t need to spend time now creating back-story. However, I may discover things in this process that will improve that history.
After that, hopefully next week, I’m going to elaborate on my outline, turning each of the single-sentence scenes into paragraphs. This process really helps me to see gaps in the story, and to make sure that the flow of all the different storylines for each character make sense and fit together. I don’t intend to expand my outline beyond a few sentences per scene. I know some authors do that, writing out a whole page per scene, but for me I think it’s overkill, at least for this book.
Once I have this detailed outline done, I’ll do some reality checking, such as plotting out dates and times of who’s doing what, when, and where. This helps me with making travel plans for my characters. If they need to get from point A to point B in X numbers of hours / days, and point B is Y number of miles away, then I need to make that happen realistically. Sounds like I’m making an Excel spreadsheet, but it’s not that bad. I just like to do reality checks like this. They help the story be more believable, and they also often illuminate aspects in the plot that I would not have noticed otherwise.
Attaching specific dates to the events in the story also allows me to know (and show) realistic scenery, correct positions of celestial objects, and accurate weather and climate. In this story, the dates follow the local calendar (which is part of that long history) used by the five regions on the continent of Brelya, where all the action takes place.
I’d like to finish these preparation processes by the end of this month (October 2013), but I also have family commitments and Halloween parties to attend. So … we’ll see. Dying to start cranking out the first draft. That’s where the fun really starts.
My current writing project is a fantasy novel. Its working title is Dorian: Book One in the Brel Chronicles. This will actually be the second novel I’ve written in this series. The first one was the first novel I ever wrote, many moons ago, called Dilei the Interceder. I doubt it will ever see the light of day, but it was a great experience. Now, it mostly serves me as raw material for world building.
I actually plotted out most of this book a few years back, but I put it on hold along with my other writing projects when I became a dad and suddenly had no time for anything else but parenting. Now I’m thrilled to be back in the world of Brel.
I began creating this setting when I was a teenager, and it has grown far beyond what I imagined back then. In the intervening years, its history has grown large, spanning about 20,000 years. This book will cover only a few weeks of that history, but you will get glimpses of the larger story throughout.
I don’t want to give spoilers here, but I do want to spark your interest. So here are a few tidbits.
Brel is the name of a planet. Its solar system is located at the very end of one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy. This vantage point gives its people a very different perspective on the universe than we have from planet earth. I think you’ll enjoy seeing the night sky on Brel.
The native people of Brel are the Tente (pronounced with long A’s, like May Day). Their species, like most of the other animal life there, is tri-gendered. Rather than male and female, the Tente people have three sexes: tê, mê, and sê (also long A’s). I love exploring the interpersonal dynamics of these people partly because they are very different from our own. I’ve learned a lot about them over the years, and, despite the obvious differences, there are also striking parallels with us.
There are two other intelligent species on Brel. One is the Kroiute, a powerful but very mysterious race. Only four individuals of this race have ever lived on Brel, but the planet’s entire history has been largely driven by these beings. The other species is the human race, known in Brel as the Zhote. How humans got there is buried in ancient Brelyan history. The interrelations of these three species are behind most of the stories I’ll be telling in this world.
I’ll be spending the next week or two finishing up my planning phase. I never plan out an entire book in detail ahead of time, but I do like to have most of the scene ideas ready to go. They inevitably end up changing radically as I write and constantly discover new things about the characters. Writing is a fun process unlike any other.
I’ll post periodic updates here as I go along.