Now that I’ve hit the midpoint of Narrator, time to see how my outline‘s holding up. Just a quick read-through of my index cards is enough to throw out half of the upcoming scenes. Maybe Arianna was focusing on a problem that wasn’t important anymore, or Calder was taking an action that he never would now that he’d lived through the first half of the book. But it’s not just about being out-of-date. I noticed a few points where I could actually ramp up the conflict by letting the characters succeed instead of fail.
I dropped a few storylines. I also have new storylines that didn’t exist when I made the outline, so I have those to work in. I won’t bother writing up the new index cards I need, though. Not all at once. I’ll just try to keep a few steps ahead of my writing. I want to be able to keep the index cards current with any new changes.
This and a few other checks are part of the Midcourse Assessment in Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways writing course. With Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering as a close second, this is the single most useful instruction I’ve seen on how to write. If you’re curious, feel free to ask me about either one!
And with that, I have some new index cards to make.
Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.