Greg Cox wrote:
Oh, I've got a question.
When it comes to planning, how in-depth do you guys go? Do you just have a brief overview of the scene, or do you include things like neat ideas you might think of, lines of dialogue, etc?
I start out with a twelve to fifteen page outline that gets run by CBS before I ever start writing the book. Ever after all these years, I still go back and forth on how much detail I should work out in advance. The more detailed the outline, the faster and easier the later writing goes, but, on the other hand, I don't want to spend days working out every beat of an elaborate action sequence only to get a note from the licensor saying "cut the snowmobile scene." Oops.
Later on, when the time comes, I may sit down and outline an individual chapter in more detail, especially if it's a complicated scene with lots of moving parts. I tend to do most of my plotting on index cards: I scribble down cool ideas and snatches of dialogue on the cards and shuffle them until I get them in an order that works. (Invariably there's one or two cards that get thrown out because they just don't fit with the rest.)
Also, I will often do a VERY rough draft just to get the structure down, then go back and flesh it out later. In general, I tend to write in layers, building the skeleton first, then adding the muscles, the skin, and the cute little freckles in that order.
My rough drafts often read something like this:
"Kirk beamed down into the alien temple, which was DESCRIBE. He turned to face NAME, who brandished a CRYSTAL/METAL/BONE scepter at him. Hordes of alien SOMETHINGS descended from the COLOR sky. (WEATHER? TIME OF DAY?). "Watch out!" Ensign REDSHIRT shouted, just before he was VERBED by a COLOR blast from the scepter."
Okay, that's probably a slight
exaggeration, but you get the idea. I want to get a solid foundation laid before I start sweating the details . . . .
Cool, thanks for this. I had a bit of a giggle thinking about sentences such as, "Man, Ensign Ricky got verbed by that Klingon so adjectively!"
But another serious question to follow on...
When you have your outline set, do you right it from beginning to end, or do you write out of order. Maybe a bit in the middle first, then a bit towards the end, then the beginning... And if you do it that way, do you find opportunities to set up a payoff so you can put the lead up to it? For example, you might decide it would be a good idea to have Chekov shoot a gun to save the day (I know, original), and then when writing earlier scenes include a bit about Chekov training at the phaser range, even though your original outline for the earlier scene might not have included any mention of Chekov's practice?