Day two of trying to flesh out the details of my outline and I’m still stuck with a block I can’t seem to shake off.
The idea is that once I have this outline detailed I can just sit down, drop the characters in, and let them drive using the outline as the road map. I’ve always been a character driven style writer so sitting down and actually writing down the details of a plot…. is alien to me. I’ve never really been one to have more than “this the rough idea for my beginning, middle, and end” and let the characters sort out the rest.
Coming up with my Lester Dent’s Hero’s Journey blend template took me an entire day to do. Why this is so hard – okay BORING – for me I will never know, but it is. I guess I will always find it far more interesting to float around in the characters’ heads and let them do whatever it is they feel the need to do.
This time though I want to stretch my wings and become more than what I typically do. And this vague idea that’s been bubbling around inside needs a specific sort of telling. One that I can’t just let the characters free reign. I just wish this plot outline was easier to flesh out with details than it is. I don’t normally write mysteries of any kind but Thomas has always been this side character in my short stories that never really got much attention but keeps popping up. He always had some “fetch quest” to do that caused problems for the main in the story and he was a bit of a punk about it.
If you ever played an MMO then you are familiar with the concept of the repeatable quests for the sake of building up reputation to hopefully unlock better quests. Typically those repeatable quests require you to fetch something. Usually the process is horribly boring as hell and we are going to find Thomas in this type of limbo at the beginning of the story.
But in the short story series I never got around to exploring him. The series always had a modern fantasy feel to it with a supernatural twist while this character carries a steam punk western feel – which I admit I have never written. And of course everything I have ever imagined him dealing with has an element of horror or at the very least suspense. So how the hell do you blend all of this together and make it all work? You plan ahead. I know this, but it’s not my strength.
I think my real issue is the villain. It’s always the villain for me. I know who I would like it to be but I can never seem to make this one character to work on the page in my short stories. The entire Lester Dent’s format hinges on the villain essentially. His motives. His methods. His drive. It’s all on him and then it’s up to the hero how to respond and overcome. So in a way even though Thomas is the main character, the story is really about the villain. I have to be able to make the villain work. I have to know, deeply know, what makes the villain tick. Either I can scrap the classic big bad that never works on my pages, which I may just do, or I can come up with an entirely new villain – one custom to Thomas. If I want to commit to a series, a customized rival type of villain may be better suited.
The question is who and why?