The second book is undergoing a final revision and should be ready to publish within two weeks, if not sooner. However, I can’t sit idle while this little process goes on. So I decided to prepare the third book – which I had planned in my head for a while now.
I’ve learnt a great deal from my first two stories, and from two dozen short stories which yet remain to be published, but I don’t expect any of my work to be of high-enough standard for traditional publishing (I read somewhere that once you reach your 1,000,000th word you start writing well enough for traditional publisher standards – I am at my 300,00oth word so far).
Anyway, this post is not about publishing, rather about the process I am using for this third book.
Anyone who has been reading my posts so far knows that I am currently focusing on epic fantasy, yet reading a wide spectrum of genres. Nevertheless, I believe that my process is not tailored to the genre, except for the map-making process which helps me keep track of the events.
I picked an approach very similar to that of the third part of the second book, a fairly detailed modular outline which includes most major elements of the story. The outline serves as a guideline for the story, but I often deviate from it should a better scenario or idea arise. The modular approach is great for keeping the writing process interesting and making it amiable enough for any future ideas that might develop. It also allows for a chance to alter the story to a more interesting direction than the intended one and keep it coherent in terms of events.
For example, I have already prepared the outline for the first part (5 chapters) of the book and started writing the story (4,000 words so far). However, while I was working on the writing process itself, after the initial and only intended outline was complete, I found that the sub-chapters would make more sense if juggled around.
The outline itself is split into two parts for each chapter. The first is a clear bullet-point format for the following (6) elements, the goal of the chapter, the idea I wish to convey (I try to conform to a short-story format during the chapters to always have a distinct idea to convey at the end of the chapter – usually political or philosophical), the requirements necessary for the accomplishment of the goal, the methods by which the goal is to be completed, the conditions required for the fulfillment of the goal, and any key explanations I intend to convey (these are usually elements occurring in the timeline which do not directly stem from the actions of the main character/s). The second part is a summary-like version of the sub-chapters (I usually number the events by their sequence). With the combination of these two outline elements, I get to breeze through the story writing a possible 1,000 or 2,000 words an hour, depending on the mood. However, the outline itself takes a day to finish for each part and an additional day or two to revise.
Finally, I decided to skip the dramatis personae because, unlike the second book, there are a few new main characters. Nevertheless, I keep a short one prepared to record any necessary information about the characters as I write. For this book, I work on the dramatis personae preparation process in parallel to the writing process.
To make things clear, I have no idea how long this book will be, nor do I have any idea how it will end. All that I know now are the main idea I wish to convey, the theme of the book, and the events for the first part. These three ‘known’ variables you just read are all prone to change within limits, especially the main idea that I tend to downgrade and replace as soon as a better one comes up.
It is with great difficulty that I explain my process and record this journey, but perhaps it would be made easier once my book is available and these posts relate to something more than just a man behind a mysterious screen.
Good luck with whatever endeavor you seek to embark on.