Fourth Book: Evolving Past an Outline

They don’t work for some authors, but I tend to love outlines when working on a story. In this age of ADHD, they help keep my thoughts straight and my plot ever in focus.

However, that doesn’t mean they are the end-all, be-all of my books.

Why, while writing a section of my fourth book only last week, the story, while tiptoeing the original concept as outlined, evolved like an overshadowing fungus, and what had been intended became fundamentally changed.

For instance, in the most recent chapter I worked on, the original outline saw our protagonist glance out the window and notice something in a hotel room across the way. I had thought nothing of this, but, after more carefully researching the location, realized it was an impossibility—there is no vantage point anywhere wherein another room could be seen. I considered outright removing the scene, though it fed into several others, or dramatically altering it; however, in the end, I believe I fell upon (with some amount of mystified glee) a suitable, and rather suggestive, arrangement that should please readers.

A more considerable change came out of a chance meeting a few chapters prior between our protagonist and another on a train (confession: while writing that section, I listened to Lovage’s “Strangers on a Train” on loop for inspiration). This was meant to be a one-off meeting informing a game-changing decision in the next chapter, but I found the chemistry between the characters so infective and the reasoning for the so-called stranger to appear on that train so inspiring, it only made sense to reintroduce at a later point.

What this second encounter will replace is something of another random aside, so it, by design, changes our protagonist’s perceived motives—from adventurous chance to seeking a second first impression. Though I had not intended for this, within the plot, it makes much more sense.

It also strikes me as more natural as, after any fundamentally enjoyable, potentially life-altering event, such as a chance encounter between two strangers, would we not wish above all else to see it repeated, and as quickly as possible? Of course, life doesn’t work that way, and sometimes impressions from those one-off meetings are the ones we remember long after the individual details are lost.

You know, I think you’re going to like this book.