It can be a tedious process, writing a novel. This one is a bitch, quite simply because the story has a history. A rich history. Sometimes I feel like I'm walking down every avenue I can find. The distance between that side street and the main road can be as short or as long as I like. But it needs to feel like a journey for me. The dead end shouldn't come so easily, for even dead ends lead to somewhere. Its just usually not a place we'd like to go or think about. Kind of like the street a friend of mine used to live on. We'd play basketball outside his house. Bouncing the ball through the street was nice, none of the other cars drove passed us. At the end of the block was a dense, unwelcoming forest. It was the type kids would get lost in... and you only hoped they ended up on the other side of the woods and not on the evening news.
When I write, I'm building the road as I go. There's the main street, where all of the action takes place. But then there are the alleyways and smaller avenues. You don't venture down those dark recesses alone... or at least you don't go down there without a weapon and a prayer. And then there is what lies beyond the darkness. It's a realm that cannot be merely looked at from the distance, but experienced. Some books will keep you on the main road. Some will veer you into the alleyways. And then there are those that force you through the fog, through the places you had not yet dreamed of.
Operation Dark Angel has been rewritten many times over. The picture above is the preliminary outline - post-its on top of post-its in a binder filled with more post-its. Now I'm working on a longer, revised outline that includes new characters and new subplots. The main road has pretty much stayed the same. A young girl grows up not knowing her true identity until she becomes of age. The side alleys and avenues have been revamped; I've made them darker and more sinister. Definitely bring a weapon. Leave the loved ones at home. As for those foggy parts, those forests that have no road or path to follow, they leave open-ended answers. It is where more stories are waiting to be told - maybe novellas, or an entirely new novel. Hell, why not a web series?
This is by far the longest and laborious part of writing the novel. That's only because I'm mapping out its potential while fleshing out the story itself. I can understand why most authors aim not to write out an outline at all. Something about losing the creative juices when working on the actual manuscript. I believe that's all hogwash. If you're creative, then an outline doesn't suppress that urge. Some authors just don't need to make one. Good for them. My mind is not as organized. I tend to develop new ideas faster than I can put them on paper... or on a word processor, in this case. My only option, then, is to outline and to walk through the world that is my novel in progress. This month will take longer than most because so many other life events are getting in the way. But, I'm working. I'm writing. The road will eventually end.