As a novelist, my skill is still undeveloped. Currently, I am working on two different novels. One will be the first book in a serial, and is not intended to be the first book that is completed. The second is very much an experiment. Both are complicated in their own ways, but the second story is fairly straightforward as far as the actual storytelling goes, at least from my perspective. It is made up of pieces fitted together to make a bigger picture, though the individual storylines don’t seem to belong together. The risk, of course, is that they don’t really belong together, but I’ll have to finish before I know for sure.
The first is a story that I burn to tell, but it must be put together very carefully. It’s a bit different from many stories I tell, because it’s got some thriller elements that complicate the underlying science fiction setting. I’ve come to realize that my typical sketchy outline will not suffice. I’ve already started and stopped a few times, because the lines of thought didn’t follow to the end after developing my usual outlines. Now, I’m outlining thoroughly to ensure the story tracks throughout (at least, as best as I can from an outline) before going ahead with the writing. So, while I’m outlining this story, I’m writing the other.
The experiment is one that I have to write before I can even begin to outline. While I know exactly where it’s going, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to get there. I’m finding out by writing it down. I’m sure it’s going to require a lot of revision after the first draft, if for no other reason than I’m learning so much about my characters as I write that I’ll have to go back and make sure it’s all in there from the beginning.
In other words, I’m using two completely different processes for two very different novels. It should be interesting to see which project is a success. I hope both are, but if one is and the other is not, it might say a great deal about the process I should use to write novels.