Once all the items are gathered, what’s the starting point?
Some people like to begin with the characters, answering in-depth questions about them and creating individual profiles that (should be and sometimes) are realistic and interesting.
Others begin with the locations. Places of interest on a map or, more broadly, the environments in which their story is planted.
Me? I typically begin with a concept, a spark that fans the fire of my storyline. From there, my outlining methods resemble the snowflake method, mostly. I develop my concept in more detail, often adding sentences that span new ideas and background stories. If the mood strikes, I start describing the back story of one of the characters.
Often, my outlines are half story and half worldbuilding, which can sometimes feel overwhelming. If I’m not careful, too much back story eats up the present story, and now I have a prequel series to consider!
That’s where my tools, described in Part 1, come into play! At some point, I force myself to look at all the incoherent scribblings and create a timeline of all major world events. I add in the small events at the character level, tweaking the story as I go.
Because I have many, many characters, I also keep a tab handy with everyone’s ages. That allows me to plan out events and scenes across decades of storyline, without worrying if a character’s age makes sense in that specific moment, or leaving fact-checking for a later stage.
… to be continued.