Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Details, details, details

In my latest (or rather, current) fiction project, I have a document that I am calling a “series bible.” It’s where I have begun noting as many details as come to mind for the story. I have one-paragraph descriptions of each of my main protagonists, including physical descriptions, modes of dress, and personal quirks. I also have a description of the setting, including details about races and worlds and such (it’s the Science Fantasy story I have mentioned before).

And after all of that, I started writing a paragraph outline for the story (where each chapter gets a 3-4 sentence paragraph). I’ve gotten about ten chapters detailed in. They’ll probably be short chapters, generally, which I think helps the story move along faster. There’s something about reading thirty pages before getting to a chapter break that makes the book feel sluggish. I’m sure it’s a psychological thing, but I find when I read books that do that, I mentally say “I would have put a chapter break there.”

Anyways, I got to a point where I suddenly had to step back and ask “Why is that happening?” Specifically, why did the villain do that thing? And that’s when it suddenly occurred to me that I had not written much from the villain’s point of view. In all of the chapters I had outlined, only one detailed specific actions on the villain’s part. And that was only as a set up for the heroes to come in to his plot.

And this revelation made me realize that I didn’t really even know who my villain was! Now that I look back, this seems like a pretty stupid mistake. Why would I detail only one side of the cast? So, I spent a good chunk of time writing two pages about the main villain, his motivations, and detailing the main plot point. This was awesome, as it made me do some real thinking about plot and story structure, and how all of the various elements that I had included because they sounded cool are tied together.

You know, I may able to do this whole “book” thing after all!

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I keep a series bible for everything I think might turn into a series. I enjoy them too. Part of my Taleran bible will be published in the next Taleran book.