Chapters and scenes

While I was writing Climbing Yggdrasil, I outlined chapters in Scrivener by writing a brief summary and filling in the narrative from that alone. However, the default in Scrivener seems to be filling a chapter with scenes, which I had not considered before.

I finished the broad strokes of the outline for Destiny and thought I could give scenes a shot. It’s sort of like going from mile markers to smaller signs every tenth of a mile. There’s a little voice in my head saying that this will just give me more opportunities to deviate from the outline; I think I get some of my best ideas that way.

For this story, I don’t want to simply outline a sequence of events. I want to write notes about what’s going on inside the characters’ heads, thoughts and feelings that I can allude to through well-placed expressions and subtle behaviors. Yggdrasil was something of a race, with all the pressure of NaNoWriMo, but now I can take the time to get more right on the first attempt. If the characters’ thoughts and desires come through in a suitably subtle way in the first draft, that leaves less for me to polish during the editing process. (By “subtle” here, I mean that I’m not beating the reader over the head with what the character is feeling; some characters, like some people, clearly display every emotion they feel on their face with no subtlety whatsoever.)

I feel like my biggest obstacle with Destiny will be parceling out information properly. I want to tantalize without frustrating the reader. I want to explain without lecturing. Above all, I want to be economic with my explanations. No one wants to read a book where the main character takes up pages and pages of every chapter expounding on the way the world works. It would be far more effective to set up scenarios in which the reader can directly witness forces at work and come up with their own conclusions.

Here’s to hoping that in going deeper and outlining scenes for the story that I discover new ideas and better ways to write it. Something I have to keep reminding myself of is that nothing is set in stone, not even if I stated it in an outline or the rough draft or a later draft. Until a book is published, I can rearrange and change anything that doesn’t work for me. The worst case is that I have to rewrite something and it takes a little more time; a small enough price for getting it right.

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