18 Sep 2014

By the Numbers - Outline Commentary

There's not much left to say, but you may want the outline open while you read.  The timeline served its purpose, to make sure I knew when things were happening, especially when using time stamps in the story.  The outline, though, may need some extra comments.

Normally, I don't outline.  NaNoWriMo encourages writing by the seat of one's pants.  The idea is that if an outline doesn't cover everything, being able to adapt on the fly, especially when trying to get at least 1667 words in one day, is a handy skill to have.  With the focus on the crew and a lot of off-camera scheming going on, knowing what the opposition was up to was useful.  It did feel like I was writing the story twice, though, which takes away from the process.  Using point form did leave details open for me to fill in, like in Chapter 6.  Chapter 6 is also a good example of me ignoring the outline.  The outline isn't set in stone.  I gave myself permission to ignore it if the story wanted to go elsewhere.  The epilogue is another part where the outline and the story diverge.  The outlined ending didn't work; Wulfe would easily find Numbers after he was done breaking Ms Evo.  Numbers had to disappear.  The reveal of Graves isn't in the outline but was a last minute addition as I realized that the audience wouldn't know why events happened the way they did.  There's still information missing, such as the depth of the infiltration by Graves' people, but that was going to be for another novel.

The big meeting in Chapter 7 did need the background info in the outline.  I needed to know which companies were at the meet and who was bringing which bodyguards.  I also worked out which corporations weren't hit and which ones were.  Wulfe got the code name "Nemesis", mainly because I didn't have a name for him yet.  From here, I have the details for later installments.  Evo is infiltrated, but the main contact is going through interrogation.  I do have an rough idea for the next story, including where Numbers is and what the crew is doing without their sociable hacker.

The longer chapter outlines are the ones with the more elaborate stage directions and action choreography.  Drama, like in Chapter 12 with the stand-off between Numbers and Nabi, just had a few notes.  The gunfight in Chapter 15 and the chase in Chapter 21 needed things worked out to know where I wanted to end.  Note that I use film jargon, such as "off-camera" and "choreography".  It stems from how I approach writing a scene.  I picture the scene in my head, moving the camera, the point-of-view, around until I get the best angle.  I let dialogue play out, reworking lines until everyone sounds right.  The process may not work for everyone, but it does work for me.

Will I use an outline in future projects?  Not to this degree.  The prep work I'm doing for the Unrulies isn't going into as much detail.  I'm more concerned about getting to know the characters so that I have an idea of they'll react when something unexpected occurs.  I did something similar with the crew for By the Numbers, too.  Going through the story and commenting reminded me of the background work I did for almost every character who appeared.  Having characters with motive goes far when writing by the seat of my pants.

Tomorrow, the start of the character sheets.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Battle Beyond the Stars.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Ocean's Eleven.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

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