Saturday, January 15, 2005

Progress... and Method

My wife gave me several hours of writing time this morning. It is great to have someone that wants me to do this as much I do.

I finished chapter 25, and began fleshing out my outline of chapters 26-28.

I hear the question asked often: how do you write? Do you just sit and write or do you plan things out?

Unlike most other things in my life, I'm a planner when it comes to writing. And Murder at Avedon Hill began as a plan for a module for the game Neverwinter Nights. NWN allows creators to build stories into the game that other players can go through in a D&D setting.

Becuase I was creating this as a module, I planned out everything... the 40+ characters, each character's story, motivations, etc. Since this is a murder mystery, I built lists of evidence (and false evidence). I was using the chain of evidence idea in the game to allow players to learn things, open up conversation trees, etc., based on information they had acquired up to that point. I created new monsters that could be used in the game. I created pages of pages of conversations that the players of the game would see when interacting with the 40+ characters in the module.

The title of the module was going to be Murder at Avedon Manor. The plan for the module was to have three possible murderers. This way a player could actually play through the module multiple times and have different endings. This turned out to be a boon for writing it as a novel, as it is much easier to create a believeable false suspect when you already have a version in mind where that person did commit the murder.

The module never got created (I was relying on developers who were going to take my information and transform it into the game, and like so many other ideas, life got in the way). All of these things helped me prepare for the change in direction.

Before I started chapter 1 I had a 20 page outline detailing everything the entire story from beginning to end. I have characters that I can throw into a room and talk to and know exactly how they would act, what they would say, and how the characters that are talking to them would act and say as well. I know the town from end to end, because I had to create every building in preparation for the NWN module. I know every home, every business, every road, every secret passage of Avedon Hill. I know every family history.

I don't plan on this being the case for every book I write in the future. But it is nice when I sit down knowing everything I need to know about these characters and the plot... now I just have to finish the thing.


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