I’m working on two novels right now. One is an “official” novel, destined for publication. The other novel is the unofficial, not-to-be published parallel story to that novel.
Coming to that point has been an interesting process. My normal process generally has several documents. First, of course, is the beta document. This is expected to become the book. Another document is about brainstorming and epiphanies. A third is a bible of terms, characters, settings, relationships, and major milestones and turning points. Fourth are snapshots. These include expanding thinking about characters, relationships, settings, historic references, just a handy guide to easily find information. I’ll often add notes about why something was decided, and where it’s included in the novel.
Last of my many documents is the deleted scene compilation. These are chapters that didn’t work, wrong turns, if you will. Sometimes they’re overcome by new concept or plot developments. Sometimes they’re deemed redundant, or they’re telling about something that I already showed. Sometimes they’re the original chapter that I wrote, which was then edited and revised. I keep them for just-in-case needs.
Why so many? I don’t know. This is what my process evolved to be. It works for me. That’s the critical component.
To this mix of documents, I’ve added the parallel story. It originally began as the deleted scenes document. I found it added a mystique, an intriguing veneer to the true novel to explore what’s happened in parallel and then have the original novel react to it.
I don’t work on the parallel novel much. It’s not meant to be a final document. Scenes are not deeply fleshed out, but are taken far enough to enable my understanding of what happened that will affect the novel in progress. Characters are sharply defined, because their thinking, decisions, and actions affect the real novel.
This is all part of the organic writing process, what some call pantsing instead of outlining. In looking at total word counts for all these documents, I estimated that I write two and half words of background and thinking material for every word in the novel. The beta draft of April Showers 1921 is forty-four thousand words. The others total about one hundred ten thousand words when added together.
That aligns with my last project’s results. Incomplete States is a series of five novels that total four hundred eighteen thousand in their latest draft. The supporting documents are just over a million words together.
Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.