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?

15 comments:

  1. That's a lot to keep track of in a story. But if that writing works, then stick with it.
    I would be so confused...

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    1. Once I noticed I was in over my head I realized I could either trek onward or give up. One of those is an option.

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  2. Interesting way to keep up with it all. I can see how it would be more helpful after a first Draft once you've gotten your creativity flowing, and thus, being a better tool to iron out underdeveloped characters as opposed to being used to actually create it. Though I suppose it could be used just as effectively prior to a first Draft; but I know my plots have often mutilated my preconceptions of my own characters once it starts taking on life. Still, it seems like you've come up with a very useful tool.

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    1. You're totally right about plots mutilating what I thought would be. I don't know that this would have worked if I'd tried it first... And honestly, as I get into later drafts I'll probably be revising (or shedding) this outline.

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  3. I did the exact same thing in my rewrites, focused on all the scenes from a particular POV from start to finish, and then the next POV, and the next, in order to keep their voices straight. It helped a lot.

    Awesome spreadsheet. I'm hyperorganized too (I must be, my MS is huge as well), and I couldn't imagine working without spreadsheets (or Scrivener, for that matter.) BTW, have you ever tried yWriter? It generates a similar timeline like yours based on the parameters you enter for each scene written. It's quite cool.

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    1. I'd heard of Scrivener but never given it a try. I'm having a look now. Thanks, Veronica!

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  4. Woah. 14 POVs. No wonder you need a chart. You might want to print a "reminder page" at the beginning of the second book for the reader. A cast of characters, so to speak, so that they are able to jump back in. Sometimes too much time goes by between the reading of books in a series and that might help.

    As for your chart... if it is working for you then it is a wonderful thing!

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    1. You're right... I'm going to have a cast of some sorts once the Silexare Compendium is live! In the process of populating that now

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  5. If you've found a process that works for you, stick with it:) I love multiple POVs, but have stuck to one POV for my last few books in an effort to make them more marketable. I know it may sound silly, but so many agents I've met shy away from first-time authors with multiple POVs in their books.

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    1. This is one reason I'm shying away from agents these days :)

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  6. Whew! I think you actually might be more organized than I am in this respect. Awesome or scary? You decide. *grins*

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    1. To be honest, I think part of it is me being intimidated by the story and stalling / procrastinating!

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  7. Wow 14 POVs I understand the need for invention. I need to get better about my note taking and my outlining. For my YA books I free write, but for the "epic" stuff I think outlines would suit me better. Can't wait to see the final project.

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    1. I do love just writing and seeing where it goes! I think I'm going to need to do that again for the next book... this process is exhausting.

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