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DTI outline underway

I’ve been developing my ideas for Star Trek DTI in the form of concept notes written down and plot and character pieces floating around in my head, but yesterday I finally started writing the actual proposal or plot outline.  I still have a number of specifics to figure out, but putting things on paper (as it were) helps me to focus and organize my thoughts.  Also, in a way, getting them out of my head and into print gives me more “room” to think of new stuff.

One way it helps is by forcing me to come up with at least tentative names (and in some cases, sexes) for some of the characters I’ve had in mind.  And somehow, having a name, a label, makes it easier to think of a character as a person rather than a general type or a story device, and that makes it easier to visualize them and come up with plot and personality for them.  For instance, there’s one vague character idea I started locking down in more detail in the outline yesterday, and while I went out to buy lunch (going on foot to and from a sandwich place about 10 minutes away, a good opportunity to think), I came up with a story arc for that character that will add something powerful and important to the storyline of the novel, and help me illustrate something I hadn’t quite figured out how to illustrate.

Actually, what gave me the idea for that story arc was something rather simple — I tentatively had this character paired with another character on one investigation, but I intended that other character to be working with someone else later on, so I needed a reason for this character to take a different path.  And that gave me this idea.  But then I eliminated the part that had this character on that first investigation at all.  So the original need that inspired this idea no longer exists — and existed for less than an hour overall — but it now serves a different and greater purpose in the narrative.  Such is the serendipity of story development.

I’m pleased with how much of the outline I got done yesterday.  I guess I already had the early part of the novel worked out pretty well.  But although I know overall what I want the story arc to be — and although I have a very clear and very satisfying idea of how it ends —  I still need to work out a lot of specific plot beats and other details.  I’m a little nervous that I only have two weeks to do it, but the fact that I got so far on my first day of outlining is reassuring.  Heck, over the past few months, I’ve conceived and written entire short stories in less than two weeks each.  So I should know by now that my insecurity over my ability to produce is unfounded.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading some classic SF time-travel fiction, as I mentioned before, in hopes of getting inspiration for my approach to time travel in DTI.  I already have well-developed ideas of my own, but you never know what seeds might inspire new insights.  But as it happens, the book I was reading last night (Stephen Baxter’s Manifold: Time) involved some ideas that instead gave me valuable technical insights about a key concept in the original spec novel I’ve been working on.  Serendipity again.

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