Outlining Part 2

Before I’d left Brazil I’d gone map crazy. But it was for good cause. The more detailed I made my world, the more real it would feel to the reader. I had maps for climate, precious metals/minerals, agriculture, livestock, ores/minerals, roadways, cities/towns, travel outline for main characters, and a separate map for each if the Five Kingdoms. I created general overviews and demographics for each kingdom, the empire as a whole, and the phaerian towns within each kingdom—populations for each town/city, historical figures, holidays, cultures and customs (e.g., who sits at the head of the table), superstitions, political factions, religions and cults, foods, etc. It took me the better part of two years to finish. Had I been able to focus on it, the world building wouldn’t have taken me nearly as long.

No one will ever see all the work I put into the word (unless it became a tabletop RPG), but knowing such details about your world will bring fluidity to your writing. Even when your book takes place on Earth, it’s important to get all the details right.

My character outlines were broken up into scenes (some more detailed than others), which detailed each character’s movements through the story. Once I’d settled in the US, I started breaking those outlines into chapter outlines. Basically, I just took the general outline, broke it down into sections, and made each section a little more specific. When I was finished, I had…56 chapters!!!

It didn’t seem that much at the time, especially when considering Game of Thrones, Wheel of TimeMemory, Sorrow, and Thorn, The Stormlight Archives. Tackling such a challenging task only seemed to motivate me even more.

I was back in the United States, enrolled in college at 33, and my manuscript was beginning to take form. But I was still struggling with the craft, like someone who learned how to dance from a book I knew all the techniques, but the practical application and subtle nuances still eluded me.

But that all changed the day I met Elissa Ambrose at my first writers group meeting.

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