Outlining

Some authors, like Stephen King, are discovery writers—they discover what happens from scene to scene as they write. I am mostly an outline writer. I like to figure out how the story is going to start and end, chapter to chapter before I sit down and actually write the story. That’s where the discovery writing takes over, as I flesh out each scene. For War of Ages, I asked myself why the point of view character was where they were at. For example, I knew that Makayla was from Pegrans, a small phaerian village in western Blailon; I answered basic character development questions, like age, physical makeup, profession (if any), etc., and then I answered the question that got the developmental juices flowing: What’s what doing?

That’s how I figured out who Makayla was, and pretty much every other character, by asking what they were doing, and then letting a scene unfold on its own, so to speak. In many cases, the discovery scenes I wrote didn’t make it to the final manuscript. Most of them ended up as notes for backstory, or the scene morphed into something unrecognizable from its origin.

I mapped out four characters’ journey’s through the story: Makayla, Kael, Jouler, and a character named Katima whose character and race aren’t introduced until book two. After mapping out the main characters’ journey’s across New Torgeir and answering what they were doing in each place, I looked at my outline…and realized I had the workings of a 1,000 page book! I imagine that’s a daunting task even for the most veteran author, much less a new writer, but I was never one to shy away from a challenge like this. I welcomed it, and was excited for it. I wanted to see the story unfold.

Thinking back at my naïveté, I can appreciate my drive and desire much in the same way a grandfather smiles at his teenage grandson’s grandiose plans for how he’s going to make it rich. Sometimes I miss that innocent confidence and purity of spirit. I imagine I looked very similar after I’d gotten to my first unit (1-10 CAV, 4ID) after graduated from training at Ft. Knox, KY. But, then I think about how my writing reflected that innocence and it makes me grateful that I’m not that naive person. And here’s the kicker: Every single writer, dancer, photographer, soldier, cop, politician, lawyer, janitor, teacher, cashier…every single person in every single professions goes through that period of innocence, where they’re trying to match their preconceptions of how their profession will be like, to the reality of how their profession actually is. It’s part of the human experience, and there’s no getting around it. Just ask David Hume 😉

I don’t think I started chapter writing until I moved back to the United States in October of 2009. If anyone has bothered to look up Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro, you might be asking yourself, “Why the hell did he ever leave?”

The simple answer: Education.

I wanted to go to college.

That was probably one of the single most important and influential decisions I’d every made, right next to joining the Army as a reconnaissance specialist, and it was probably one of the best decisions of my life.

Philosophy was where I found myself.

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