Third Book: Outline!

So, while I wish I had more time to sit and think about this entry, truth is I'm taking a break from packing up my suitcase and my house for a lovely (and much-earned) trip to Las Vegas. Because of that, this will likely be somewhat brief and, honestly, probably contain a good deal of grammatical errors, inconsistency, repetition and, undoubtedly, typos.

Back to what's important: this week I've finalized an outline for my as-of-yet publicly untitled book (don't worry, I've got the title all written down, safe and sound). Compared to the last time I wrote an initial outline (holy shit, that was four years ago?!?), this was far more formulaic. Not sure if that's because I actually have an inkling of what I'm doing now, or because I'd been letting my thoughts for this story brew for so long, but what sits before me right now is, well, a loosed weight.

Think I was going somewhere else with that? Yeah, well, as great as every author thinks their latest book is (yes, I do), the greatest feeling is just getting it out of your head and making it a tangible thing. I mean, this stack of stapled pages lying on the desk can actually be picked up! It can be read. It can even be burned if someone wanted to be a dick (thankfully, my life isn't Misery). Before now, it was just a pestering buzz of ideas gnawing at my conscious mind, a West Niled mosquito eying me from a pool of tepid water.

Did you know the only purpose of mosquitoes is population control?
How messed up is that?

Where was I? Oh. Right. So, I started with just a run of ideas, about a page and a half of bullets and run on sentences somewhat related through a main character. This was every initial thought, every concept, every main event I had been pondering over the last few years. And sure, as word vomit it wasn't bad. It was all there, like fishing through Discovery Zone ball pits for that elusive pissing toddler ruining the experience for everyone else.

But what I needed was something I could reference going forward, something concrete I look to and say, "Oh, duh, that's what I wanted to do next."


So I sat down, read through the puke my wife would actually not cringe too badly over and started over, focusing on the whats and whens and trying to piece together the skeletal structure, inserting chapter and section breaks along the way. What came through was an approximately six page narrative, complete with main and supporting characters, hints of B-stories, and the actual mystery and suspense that would keep the readers (that's you!) going.

Then I realized a minor problem. Wait, did I say this was going to be brief? I had the main characters down, no problem. I mean, one I already knew, so no issue there and, really, the others just seemed to come naturally. What was lacking was the supporters, the ones that make the world feel real. Keeping that in mind, I shuffled through some characteristics, thought of what kind of people would be populating this world of mine, and started developing the B-sides even further. And while the sidelines won't be as prominent as in the still-forthcoming The Nobodies, I wanted them to be integral to the plot. And now they are.

I was almost set. Ready and willing. I even jumped out of bed just before completely passing out to write down the first three paragraphs of the book. But it still wasn't ready. It just wasn't enough, yet. You see, I faced a problem before where my story crumbled after awhile because I hadn't the backbone enough to support it. I didn't want to face that again, so I reread and rewrote and added more details. At this point, I rewrote the beginning of the third act (no, not that end), and added a considerable amount to the beginning and middle. While holding myself back from simply diving headfirst into the story proper, I created a 12 page outline of everything of important. That's at 12 pt Times New Roman single space, with breaks between the sections (not the chapters).

The short version: went from 1.5 pages to 6 pages to 12. End of story.

Got to go back to packing now. Last time I went to Vegas, I found an Internet cafe to write my thoughts down for a dollar a minute. I doubt I'll need to do that (I think that site is still out there somewhere....) now that we've got smartphones, but I have packed both my outline and a steno pad.

You know, just in case. See you on the other side. And, no, I didn't edit this. Here's hoping it isn't the awful cream pie I think it is.