This is the eighth in a series of posts about the redrafting process of THE LONG ROAD which will be composed and published as I rewrite the book. The other posts in this series are here.
To recap, my goal from last week was:
By this time next week, I’ll shoot to have this character-level timeline worked out as well as I can through the end of the story (which is incidentally the end of the war COUGHspoilerCOUGH). This should provide me a much clearer sense of who is going to be important in the book and who will have to wander off into their own stories to be written later.
What actually happened:
I finished the character-level timeline! And it is a beauty, let me tell you. Check it out:
I plotted out who is doing what where and with who all the way through to the end of the book. This was actually an extremely useful exercise since it made me think through some hard choices about how someone would end up where they are at the end of the book(s).
The color coding works really well to visually distinguish (a) which characters are together at a given point, and (b) the scope of a given plot arc. One thing this sort of thing does for me writing-wise is it helps me clarify my instincts. For instance, there’s a character named Kellidion who I’ve had this nagging instinct to put in this story. He popped up years ago as a character mentioned in passing in a totally different book, and then I wrote a set of shorts about him, and he’s popped up here and there. His story overlapped in a glancing way with this one, and on a hunch I gave him a row on the above timeline. And it’s going to pay off. It makes sense in about a million ways for him to be involved and now I’ve worked out why.
Ok, so by now you may have noticed I get carried away. All of my seemingly simple information structuring techniques turn into these peculiar baroque creations, and this is now exception. I went through it again when I finished it, and the act of going through sparked ideas, so I used Excel’s comment feature to note these down. And so really the timeline looks like this:
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!
Finishing the timeline means I have a better sense of character arcs, which means that I can do a whole lot of very fun work building out character trajectories and backstories.
This is getting done in the Aerdh Bible so that these character notes can be used in future projects and updated according to those projects as needed. Information centralization! It’s a thing I believe in!
I’ve also started this nifty thing:
This is the relationship web I mentioned in my last post in this series. I find it useful to have a visual representation for this which works to jar my memory of what I’ve built out at a glance. Turns out powerpoint is really good at this.
All in all, this has been a productive little week.
So. For next week, I’m planning to have character sheets written out for all the characters on the timeline and hopefully have then mapped out on the web.
Next steps are to redraw the world map and track paths on it as well as changes to the landscape as a result of the war.