Here’s what I’ve done so far on the fourth Seabingen novel. It may not look like much, but it’s taken me a couple of months to get here.
First, I read over the original novel and decided that it was crap that wasn’t worth publishing. Okay, so it’s not all crap; there are scenes I will reuse and dialog I will splice in. The problem is that the bones of the story are bad. The motivations the plot are based upon aren’t plausible, and the plot had to be reworked from the ground up.
I’ve had luck before working from a synopsis. A few times, when I worked from a detailed synopsis, I was able to produce good work quickly, because I didn’t have to pause and make sure that the scene fit the overall plot. I have also had some luck writing work out longhand. I don’t usually do it (I type about 5x as fast as I write) but the one time I did do it, I wrote a story which had a depth my writing doesn’t often have. For this novel, I’ve decided to combine these.
First, I wrote out a synopsis. (Well, it’s mostly a synopsis. A few fleshed-out scenes crept in there). With the first three chapters, which are pretty much done, it came out to around 24,000 words, so it’s a hefty synopsis.
Then, I got all these little scraps of paper and wrote out a summary of each scene on them. I laid them out on the table, based upon whose story line it was. I labeled them here. As you can see, Kit and Morales are the main characters. In the first version, Kit, Morales, Fenwick, and Jackie were the main characters, and they each had the same number of scenes/chapters. I liked the elegance of having an orderly system, but it meant I had to manufacture scenes for some characters that didn’t advance the plot as much as they should have. In this version, Vax is a minor character with a subplot, and the main plot is Kit and Morales’ murder investigation.
The reason why the climax happens at the 2/3 mark instead of the 1/2 mark is that I’m still not sure how the story is going to end. I know who the bad guy is, and who he’s going to kill, and how a couple of the minor characters get away from him, but I’m not sure how Morales is going to take him down. I don’t have that scene in my head yet.
But I have enough to start. I have the first three or four chapters mostly completed, and I bought a little moleskine that fits in my purse so I can write out scenes by hand whenever I have a free moment. It won’t be done by Christmas, but it will certainly be done next year.