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My outline is coming along like a good stew.

It started out thin, but as I add ingredients it becomes richer and richer. I am 25 chapters into the outline and have a hard time pulling myself away from it to do more mundane things - like eat or sleep.

I've been asked about the level of detail I put into each chapter description in my outline. It really depends on the chapter.

Most are a few paragraphs that describe the action in rough terms. I prefer this, I don't want to feel locked-in. This allows me to riff a little when I sit down to write the chapter in full.

In a few cases, however, I go into great detail, especially if the action involves historical events or real locations. I don't want to get this wrong. If my details are inaccurate, or worse, false, then it will call everything else into question.

For example, I read a thriller several years ago which was set during World War Two
. The sense of period and place seemed to be perfect in my mind until the author used the term "serial killer". I knew from my own research that this is an expression that has only been in use since the 1970s when it was coined by an FBI profiler.

It was a detail that made me call into question other parts of the book and their credibility and spoiled what, until then, had been a pretty good read.

As the saying goes, the devil's in the details.


So the rule here is - there is no rule. I treat each chapter differently based on what I think I will need when I start to write the first draft.

On another subject...

When I delivered the manuscript of DOUBLE TAP to Amy yesterday afternoon
we got into a brief discussion about character names. This reminded me of an article on the subject that I read a few years ago in WRITER'S DIGEST magazine
.






 


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