Reven Archer Black: Author of Fantasy & Speculative Fiction

Home » Blood & Heritage Series » For Neglected Characters and Plot Holes, Call OUTLINE and Press 1

For Neglected Characters and Plot Holes, Call OUTLINE and Press 1

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“I can’t do this.” Menníenn toyed with the dagger, tempted to slice open his hand as a distraction. Most of the pain from punching the wall had already had worn off.

He growled as Krístoff sat next to him.

“No, I think you’re trying to convince yourself you can’t,” Krístoff argued, resting his arms on his raised knees. “Otherwise you’d have chosen the door that actually goes somewhere. Unless you’re planning on jumping, then we’re going to have a whole new problem. That and I’d wonder what took you so long.”

“Is this really your idea of helping?”

Krístoff shrugged. “You’re the one who almost punched me in the gut. I’d say brutal honesty and sarcasm are all you’re getting right now. And it’s about all I’m willing to give since the more you stall, the more I think you actually like being miserable.”

“Maybe I do.”

“And maybe you still haven’t actually mastered lying to yourself yet. You just like to think you have.”

 

– from Blood & Heritage, book 2: Descent

 

 

It’s official: I started rewriting Descent. Finally, after saying for months that I needed to get it done, I sat down and tapped out a whole new scene. That in itself is a slight literary miracle, considering I did it while in the middle of a nasty bout of insomnia, upon which I am blaming this ridiculous weather.

In any event, there’s a whole chapter done.

*throws confetti and blows party horn*

Chapter 24, to be more precise. And I think I might be in love with it. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just the fact that it’s a scene between two of my precious boys in the series. Both are tortured souls in their own way.

But the fact that this chapter exists now is where outlines are worth their weight in gold.

 

Yeah, Yeah. Habits and All That.

I’m certain other authors would kill me over what they’d label as “bad habits” or just really bad ideas. That whole “don’t edit while you write” thing? Yeah, no. I break that rule all the time. It works for me and keeps me from stressing out. And the concept of always outlining before writing? That one often gets thrown out, too. I’m more 50% pantser and 50% outliner, give or take depending on the project.

To tell the truth, both Ascension and Descent have been written with that 50/50. I know the characters, their circumstances, and the major plot points inside out, so I can work blindly on those things. The outlining comes in handy when I’m working out the plot events to highlight in the actual manuscript, considering the books span years (decades, even) and it’s not feasible or logical to go into every single day. Though my outlines for the series have been incredibly generalized before I write the first draft.

Rewrites, on the other hand, is where the serious business happens and the anal organizer comes out.

 

OMG. So That’s Where You Where Hiding!

I sat down recently and pounded out the hardcore outline for book 2.

Mission 1: Wrap my head around everything that needed to be rewritten and added so I’m not going in circles and crying over the amount of work.

Mission 2: Find plot holes and kill them ’til they’re dead.

 

Surprise. I found more than just plot holes. I found a whole neglected character, which is really sad considering he’s one part comic relief and all heart.

Well those monkeys won’t do.

I knew I wanted to get into more of the antagonists’ side of things considering how sneaky they are, and I’ve thrown them plenty of bones to gnaw on to tell their side of the story.

I also knew I needed to work out a better ending, especially since the original plan for the book didn’t end there. There needed to be more oomph. The stakes needed to be higher. And as sad as this is, I actually have a file called “Question for Book 2” in my notes for this book. In it, it says:

 

WHERE is the CLIMAX? The change in the story?

FIND. IT.

MAKE IT GOOD.

 

… because that’s what happens when you cut one book into two. Nothing says “outline it NOW” like not being able to pinpoint where the heck the climax has gone.

/cue facepalm

Those I expected. But I then discovered one of the main members of the family got the shaft somewhere along the way. So I’ve thrown the man a lifeline and actual scenes where readers can find out more about who he is. I’ve given him a few more scenes to round out his place in the family and tell more of what he’s seeing, things that the two MCs are missing.

And the outline saves the day again, not to mention my sanity.

 

Moving Onwards but Not Necessarily Upwards

One chapter down; thirty-two left. Or so the current outline says. I have a few chapters I’m dying to work on this week, though they’re throughout the manuscript. Thank the literary gods that we don’t have to write chronologically. This rewrite is going to involve a lot of bouncing around. But that works for me. I love organized chaos. Or chaotic organization. Or whatever this is.

Truth be told, I wasn’t planning on getting to the second draft this early in the year. I’d pegged it more for May/June, after I worked on a couple of other projects. But this series is very “Me! Me! Me!”, like that super eager kid in class who really wants to answer a question and keeps thrusting their hand higher and higher to the point where they’re falling out of their chair. Although with the one chapter down, I’m hoping maybe I can knock out a few more before moving onto a new project. I’m determined to get rewrites done well before the end of 2015. If I’m lucky.

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