Archive for October 13th, 2011

The Limitations of Reverse Outlining

The process of carving Capsule apart is slow.  Slow and mentally exhausting.  I’m averaging about three chapters per night before my brain and eyes stage a coup and leave me insensate.  Something about staring at my own writing and trying to reverse engineer it into an outline dries my eyeballs.  Or maybe that’s just all the dust being kicked up by the kitchen renovations taking place on the first floor while I write in the basement.

Something about using the phrase “while I write in the basement” as part of a blog post.  Nevermind.

The process is slow, but I’m pushing on, largely for the sake of the novel that will still be called Capsule.  The toughest part about transitioning from the conjoined story to the split novels is pulling out the murder motivations, which entirely belong to the frustrated cultists who’ll land in Post Apocalypse.  So I need everything about the murder plot that I can salvage, so I know where to start weaving in entirely different characters and motivations.  It’s that age-old question: Why would someone commit murder in the 2070s if not for the influence of Tezcatlipoca?  I’d like to think Shakespeare and Hemingway dealt with this same question when working on King Lear and Old Man and the Sea, respectively.

My companion and friend on this road was and is Scrivener for Windows, and thank Lit & Latte for that.  I’m not drilling as much as I could with the tool, but the constant presence of a little note card beside the chapter I’m currently dissecting is keeping me sane.  No hand written notes, no flipping between programs, just a friendly little note card.  Pulling this novel apart is teaching me a lot of the features I’ll be using to stitch Frankenstein back together at the far end.  I’ve got the file broken into chapters, but not into scenes, just because I’m not going to do the kind of rearranging in this file.

At some point I’m going to reach the end of how useful the reverse outlining is, well before I reach the end of the conjoined draft.  The farther I get away from Chapter One the more I drift afield from the eventual plot of Capsule.  After that I’ll probably carve out all the dream sequences that will get adapted into Post Apocalypse, and then get to outlining the two new novels.  That’s probably my November project, as I doubt I’m doing Nanowrimo this year.  Maybe next year with the next of the three outlines in the queue.  After the post on Writers Block and Nano, I’m serious about not tackling the challenge again without a full outline ready to go.

For now, I need some eye drops.

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