Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Into my process - Turesia

When I was rewriting A Sawmill's Hope I wrote a post describing how I was organizing the story and the point of view characters - How I was writing all the way through, one character at a time so as to keep firmly within their voice instead of having to jump back and forth. It worked very well, making each character at least a bit unique from the others, so I'm doing it again for Turesia. The difference is that in ASH there were 5 point of view characters, 5-10 significant side characters. In Turesia there are 14 POV characters and about 15 significant side characters.

One reason this complicates things is because of the potential for huge advances in plot that break up an individual's point of view. For example - Kraus is drunk and ambushing passerby's on a highway the first time we're in his POV. The next time, he's been arrested, fought monsters in Keswall, sworn loyalty to Torvald and is escaping from Orcanes. A lot has changed! His voice needs to reflect that change, so as to keep his arc smoothly transitioning. I need to know exactly where he's been, where he's going.

To keep it all straight, I made an outline of an entirely different sort than last time. I think this outline would have been most useful if I'd done it first, before my train wreck of a first draft. Then again, I might not have discovered some of the details on this outline if I hadn't tried writing through first.

Red = Dead
(yellow = presumed dead)
I've zoomed out to include as much of the chart as possible and to keep it illegible, to avoid spoilers.

This is actually all the significant characters, not just the POVs. Each row is a character's individual journey. The X axis represents the flow of time, from left to right. In this way I can refer to this while writing to see where everyone is, what just happened and what's about to happen.

It's also extremely useful once you determine a starting point and ending point for a character emotionally. Bilbo Baggins would have started on the far left as comfortable and self assured, not terribly motivated but living a quiet, orderly life in the bubble that is the Shire. By the time we reach the far right, he's in the Shire once more but has undergone some serious character reformations. In the middle would be all the inciting incidents - spiders, elves, barrels, goblins, dragons, battles, treasure... The fun parts.

To me, the more well rounded a character begins (especially if they're quite unlike how they'll end up) the more hell they have to go through to transform throughout the book. If you use your imagination, discovering that journey is the most exciting part of being a writer.

This outline came about once I realized the story had become bigger than I knew how to handle. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say and I must agree. If you've written a (I hesitate to say epic...) large-scale story and found yourself lost amongst the details, characters, and side plots, what technique did you use to keep it sorted? Or did you blindly forge ahead, hoping for the best?