In January I focused on outlining, using my Github activity to track daily progress.
My wiki is now over 95k words, across 205 markdown files and 47 characters at various stages of development, accumulated over the past ~8 calendar years. (Most of those years I was not focused on writing, and I’ve trashed more ideas than I’ve kept.)
I’ve migrated it all to Obsidian. I’m hoping the Obsidian backlinks will help me keep track of characters, side plots, clues, and ideas: if I follow this arc does it make sense? Is it paced well? Do I have any characters that are in too many scenes or only show up once or twice? If I follow this character, does their voice stay the same? Is it identifiable without dialogue tags?
Cost of change
I’ve tried that already, in 2015: I came up with a cool idea and some characters, and just started writing. I wrote over 100k words that I ended up throwing away.
In software, an important concept is the cost of change. The earlier in the process you identify major issues and make significant changes, the easier and less costly it will be.
I’m taking those same lessons and applying them to my fiction writing.
I’ve tried the Snowflake Method, various beat sheets, and Sanderson’s outlining method over the years, and I found them all lacking when interweaving multiple main characters’ arcs together. Truby’s The Anatomy of Story caught my attention during NaNoWriMo: his four corner opposition resonated with me. I decided to follow the rest of his exercises.
I have my 3 POV characters’ 7 key steps and 22 step story structures fleshed out to varying degrees for book 1. These exercises largely involved writing down what I already knew, but they also highlighted the gaps in my knowledge about my characters and world.
I’ll keep outlining in February: build my book 1 scene weave, keep fleshing out my characters and world, and start outlining books 2 and 3.
I’m hoping to outline the entire trilogy before I switch into drafting mode, ideally in March. (We’ll see how realistic this plan is.)