Scrivener Series: Final Outline

Scrivener-LogoThis is the fifth installment in my Scrivener Series, which showcases how I use Scrivener to write help me write entire novel series. Be sure to check out the previous installments (Bible, Wallowing) or check out my writing process post for a preview of what I’m going to cover next.

At this point I’ve got timelines for everyone new, I know when they were born and what shaped them into the horrible horrible people I know and want my readers to love; I’ve also given every major character and the antagonists in the novel their own outlines for the book. So you’d think I had a pretty good idea of what’s gonna happen when and could just get to writing the thing.

Nothing is ever that simple.

Final Outline

Outline

I’ve said before that the Final Outline is a map of the novel but there’s still room for plenty exploration and getting lost along the way. Before I can even get to the final outline however, I’ve got to get all these headstrong characters’ actions and reactions to merge in a single continuous timeline – and of course they have other ideas.

With “Toxic Ash” whose final outline is pictured above, I came to the final outline with five individual outlines (Ash, Buddy Jenkins, Caliban & Caine, Helen) and while the main points line up somewhat in each individual outline, timing, reaction, action and when each individual character wants something to happen – don’t line up at all. Usually it’s close. Very very close. Close enough that I’m often tempted to just merge them together like shuffling a deck of cards and trust it’ll all work out.

Unfortunately it’s more like shuffling several different decks of tarot cards, one for each character outline, and that means you’re going to end up with one heck of a muddled reading. Two or more Death cards will appear, two or more Devils, Lovers and Fools; not together probably just far enough out of sync to make deciphering the resultant mess a real headache.

So you start over. From the very first scene, letting the characters outlines inform their actions in each scene (a headache and also a big help, especially in the Eldritch Elysium series which is all mostly from one characters POV). As you go you add other elements from your notes (I keep a color key to remind me to put science fiction elements here, romantic elements there, tie ins from previous books here and a foreshadow of the next there) so all of that time consuming research doesn’t go to waste.

All of that is made easier by being able to keep all my notes and elements open in the same document as I work. Need to see what Caliban gave Ash at the end of book one, it’s a few tabs up, that bit of research on Shub-Niggurath, two tabs down, information on the rest of Helen’s illustrious family, over there highlighted in purple. So much easier than trying to find all the documents and notes I scrawled on bits of paper and tucked into various folders on my various computers! Allowing for ever richer, more complex, stories.

You can also see from the image above how simply I’ve sketched out each scene and chapter. Partial sentences, sometimes just a single word give me a sense of where I’m going but don’t even come close to taking away from the joy of pantsing it – just makes sure I end up lost without a shirt a good deal less likely.

Hopefully some of that will be helpful. Be sure to check out the previous installments (Bible, Wallowing, Timelines & Outlines) or check out my writing process post for a preview of what I’m going to cover next.

And don’t forget if you want to skip the extra blather about my writing process and go straight to the next book release, you can always sign up for email notification!

I’m Back?

Bit nervous to actually say that I’m back to writing and Mom is doing well, seems like every time I do that she ends up right back in the hospital and I face a writing block to end all writing blocks. Hopefully this time she really is doing better but I am experiencing the hell of nothing that is popularly called writers block and which I’d normally swear doesn’t exist.

Since Mom’s last exit from the hospital I’ve settled down at my computer every day and opened up my Scrivener document for the next installment in the Eldritch Elysium series which I’d just decided to name “Tasting Ash” before the last round of hospitals. I open it up and I stare, stare, stare. I stare till it’s about 10 pm and then I give up for the night.

If I remember correctly I was just about ready to start working on the outline before the heart attack but after all my notes make absolutely no sense and my characters won’t let me get back in. Worse, some of them have been laughing at me. Tried writing something else, anything else and it’s gotten a bit better though the nightmares are actually getting worse.

It feels like I’ve forgotten how to do the thing. You know the thing. That wonderful thing that’s part way between magic and skill where you slip sideways through reality and words flow from your fingertips, if not well at least on demand.

This – lack of words – more than anything else seems to mean I’ll be lucky to make my usual deadline for release of the next book. I will, of course, keep beating my head on this brick wall till something comes out. Anything (please gods anything).

In Out and Back In Again

I keep wanting to update the blog with excellent news that Mom’s out of the hospital and recovering well – except every time I start to type that out she ends up back in. It’s a series of diminishing problems, we started with a heart attack so this is still progress, I just wish she was recovering more properly on her own now though even when she’s out she requires a near constant level of care so I’m always busily buzzing about.

Well here’s hoping this is the last of the big steps towards her recovery.

 

And We’re Back! Sorta…

So Mom’s been out of the hospital for about a week now. Surgery went ridiculously well and they even managed to not replace one of her valves but it took her about two weeks to finally be released home. In the meantime I was running back and forth from our home-base in back-end of beyond middle Georgia running errands and trying to make sure we had a life to come back to.

Somehow I managed to get an awesome tan, keep the cats alive and the garden.

Turns out, after the hospital is the hard part. While Mom’s pain is steadily increasing we find ourselves with less resources to meet them with. Still it’s so nice to be home! You don’t know what heaven is until it’s the middle of summer and you just want to roll out of bed and spend the day basking in the warmth without pants.

I’m ridiculously happy to be home again with Mom and that everyone is alive and relatively well. There’s still a long, long, long road ahead of us and I’m not seeing this as being great for my writing but I’ll do my best. Thanks to everyone for all the support, I send all the well wishes straight to Mom and even in the grip of terrible pain they make her smile for a moment – so keep ‘em coming!

That Other Thing I Do

When I’m not working on my latest novel I’m a full time, live in, caregiver for my mother who broke her back (literally) as a nurse for the state of Georgia five years ago. Most of the time it doesn’t interfere with my work so I’ve managed to get by without mentioning it.

Unfortunately last Wednesday I had to take my mother to the ER and we’ve been in the hospital since then. The situation is – not great. We’re expecting to have to remain at the hospital at least until sometime next week but even in the best case scenario I have no idea how long it will end up being before I am able to update the blog or anything else. Please bear with me and any good thoughts you can send in my mother’s direction, would be greatly appreciated.

Fly Commentors – FLY

I much like all Independent Artists, am really attached to the issue of net neutrality. Simply because I don’t have the budget to match companies like Netflix dollar for dollar so that I can access the same user base at equal speeds. So when I saw this video on youtube of course I had to share it (plus the unleashing of the trolls is just comedic gold).

If you haven’t already gone to the FCC’s site to comment, please consider doing so – and encouraging everyone you know to do so. It’s easy to do and as John Oliver mentions, you don’t exactly have to be Shakespeare to get your point across on the issue either.

 

Amazon, Hachette and Smashwords

So – I’m re-reconsidering Smashwords, for several reasons. First and foremost, though the meat grinder is still their prefered method of upload for new titles and though it still sucks mightly, there is now the option to upload checked epub files instead. I’ve yet to figure out how to create an epub that they’ll accept but I think this option really makes them a lot more worthwhile than previously especially since I’ve seen some wonky things happen with my Draft2Digital publications.

Recently files have gone online and offline at D2D with seemingly little rhyme or reason. I’ve cracked down on one cause, which is entirely my fault, while the others seem to have more to do with disputes between the various distributors themselves. My mistakes are bad enough but they come with the territory, I’ll learn from them, make fixes and move onto releasing a better product. My work seemingly caught up in dispute I’ve got nothing to do with? Not so much.

Which is where Hatchette comes in. Initially, I looked on Amazon’s feud with the one of the big six traditional publishers the way I look on anything that seems to spell trouble for traditional publishing – with miserly glee and much mwhahaha’ing. Of course, that was largely because the feud is partially shrouded in mystery (we don’t know what Hatchette’s particular demands are) and slightly because all the articles I’d read on the subject really looked at the situation from a traditional publishing standpoint.

Until I saw an article on Smashwords that clarified a few things I’d been thinking about recently as well as the Hatchette/Amazon feud in a way relevant to me as an independent author. So I’m rethinking Smashwords, again, though the final decision will likely hing on my abilities to use the new tools properly.