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  • Andy Havens

Update on Book 3 progress

I would like, at this point, to publicly thank my 11th grade writing teacher, Mrs. Ellen Burke, for her insistence that the classic outline (I, A, 1, a) is almost always the friend of someone who isn't quite sure what comes next.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, it's an outline that starts with Roman Numerals for first tier items, then goes to capital letters, Arabic Numerals and lower case. So like this:

I. Things I like

A. Dogs

1. Hounds

a. Bassets

b. Blood Hounds

B. Ice Cream

1. Coffee

2. Salty Caramel

II. Things I don't like

B. Any more of this example

You get the picture.

I've used them on everything from major writing projects in school to project management at work to presentation planning. And I use them to help pace and section off ideas that need to go into a book.

In some cases, like with novels, that means that the top level (Roman Numerals) ends up being a chapter. That's a good start, because I like to have 10-15 chapters in a novel. More than that feels frivolous to me, less feels assumptive.

So when I get an idea of what has to happen at a very, very high level for a book, it means I'm done with the "Roman Numeral" level of planning. For "The Side Ways, Book 3: Alive," this was done months ago. I knew, basically, what I wanted to happen in the book and could step through the major plot points that absolutely had to happen to get me there.

Second level (Capitol Letters) amounts to the "scenes" in chapter. Not a one-to-one ratio, but basically, "Here are the actions that take place within this defined time-frame of the story." This takes longer. It involves more shifting of chunks. Sometimes you think something should be "I / D" and it turns out you need it to be "III / A." Etc.

I've basically finished that level of outlining. Which, for me, means that I can really start writing some large chunks of the book. This doesn't mean all the holes are filled. Some of the 2nd level outlining is filled by labels as nebulous as, "Need a big fight between these two characters based on an early misunderstanding." Obviously, that's not going to get written without some more thought.

But a lot of the other scene-level notes are pretty tight now. Which is cool.

I can "see" the whole thing now.

Non-spoiler hint for those who have read books 1 and 2... there will be some meaty backstory for both Solomon Monday and Tess the Crow. In fact, probably about a fifth to a third of the book looks like it's going to be backstory, history, motivation, investigation. As I planned out what happens to Kendra, I realized that you (dear reader) need to know a lot more about how the Domains got to where they are before I can take you much further into where they're going.

PS: You think Helen was a bad-ass in book 2? ;-)