East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Plans and re-designs

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Plans are made to be changed – and so my finely defined writing and publishing plan for 2015 is undergoing some radical redesign.

On the other hand, somewhat unexpectedly, I’m outlining a new novel – the pitch, based on an original request I was sent, is currently being evaluated by my publisher, and while I wait for a (hopefully) positive response, I’m thinking ahead and mapping my story.


My current modus operandi for fiction is more or less like this…

Outlining basically means – for me – writing down a short summary, and then turn it into a chapter and scene breakdown. It’s a map, but it does not have to be very detailed or in scale – think of it as an underground map for my story.

And my new story is very different from the previous one (more about that in the next few days), and requires much more work in terms of research, planning, character sketching.

It’s an ambitious and complex project, one that might be part of a larger design, and in which I’d like to tackle some of my personal pet peeves.
It also promises to be longer than anything I did so far – which implies a number of other problems, of course.
The idea is to have the outline and the notes handy, so that when the story freezes because something does not fit, there’s some reference to go back to, some scrap of information telling me where to jump.

And the story will freeze!
Freezing is a direct consequence of freedom.
While I like a structural approach to writing, I normally leave myself quite a bit of maneuvering space, of improvising freedom – let’s say that the first draft will deviate somewhat from the outline, and the revision and final draft will probably add about 30% material and further deviate from the original plan.


But it’s ok – and for me, it works.
It makes the story fun to write, because it’s still a travel of discovery.
Only, sometimes I have to go back to the map because I deviated too much from the plot, and the story froze.

So, outlining.
And in the spare time, doing a spot of research – I have all the stuff I need for the background, but I want to check my facts and all that.
Also, I’m trying to get Scrivener in gear so that I’ll be able to import my outline in the software’s Outliner – something I never did so far, but should not be such a big deal.

Should everything go as I hope it will, as soon as the publisher gives the go-ahead, I’ll have an outline to show them, and I’ll start the first draft, and so I might have a few chapters to show them by the time the contract arrives.

This, if everything goes fine.
Otherwise, I might as well go and self-publish it – even if the editing would be a big problem.

As for all the other projects – well, it will be a matter of planning anew.
Nothing gets lost, it only gets misplaced.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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