Story a day: 9.30.16

He pulled on the socks first, red and gold and reaching above his knee. He moved methodically. It took care and attention to get the pants on next, tied below the knee to keep the socks up. Shirts needed to be tucked. The gold buttons on his coat needed buttoning. Everything had its place and its method.

He did not look in the mirror. He’d followed the steps; all was in order. He stepped out onto the dais.

Story a day: 9.29.16

She came out of the gate swinging. The pole smacked into someone’s head. She didn’t pause to wonder which of her unlucky comrades had taken the blow. She ran on, still swinging. The next thing the pole struck felt like a limb. Again, she hardly paused to process the information before rushing onward.

She reached the other side of the arena and turned. Dozens of people lay on the ground groaning. She tried not to remember who they were, the stories they’d told of their lives before the arena.

A door swung open before her. A woman stood on the other side. “You’re free,” she said. “Go.”

Story a day: 9.28.16

A kitten pranced through a field of flowers. The grass blades scratched the pads of his paws. He settled on a daisy and let the soapy, soft petals soothe his feet. Then he curled up among the flowers, the sun covering him like a warm blanket while he slept.

Story a day: 9.27.16

She threw the cat in the pot and cooked it with all the rest. The children sitting in the corner still cried every time she added the live ones. Surely, they should have grown numb to the squeals of the animals by now. No matter, some day they’d become adults.

WAW: When is an outline done?

Writing About Writing: A once-a-week post about some aspect of writing. I’m not an expert; I’m just some guy. Take it with a grain of salt.


I’ve been talking and thinking and writing a lot about outlines lately. I’ve also been working on my own outline. I decided a couple weeks ago that my outline and research were done, but the more I reflect on that decision the less meaning “done” seems to have.

It’s tough to determine what marks an outline as “done,” but there are a few good guideposts.

Elements of a completed outline

  • You have a detailed outline that lays out a rough sketch of every scene from beginning to end
  • All of the main characters are fully fleshed out
  • The world exists*

***

That last gets an asterisk because it’s the one I’m the loosest about. Item 1 I will not budge on. That is the single most important element, to me. You need to know where the story starts, what happens in the middle and how the damn thing ends. Item 2 also has little wiggle room. You have to know your characters and why they’re doing what they’re doing. But if you don’t also have every single secondary character totally realized, that’s probably ok.

Then we come to the world building.

Building eternal

Worlds are complex. Ridiculously complex. For every problem you solve and question you answer, you will find a dozen more.

So when is the world done?

As I’ve written about before, there are some things that I think you really *should* have before calling the worldbuilding done. Things like languages, measures, nations, history and cultures.

But it’s possible to get mired in those details forever. And that’s a dangerous trap to fall into.

So when is it done? When you want it to be…kinda

I think worldbuilding, and therefore outlining, are done when you believe you sound credible enough. Note the enough. You’re never going to know everything. It’s just not possible. But do you know enough? Maybe? Probably?

Good enough is good enough – at least for a first draft. Let good enough be your guide for the first draft. Writing a draft and going back to fill in details of the world is vastly preferable to outlining for eternity.

Resources:

Story a day: 9.25.16

“Do you have the heart of an angel?”

The hunter stepped from the shadows and held up a silver box. He touched the padlock on it and it fell with a clatter to the stone. The box creaked open.

The heart inside was also silver and still beating. Light seemed to pulse from it in time with the beats.

“That will serve.”