Well, as the title says, I’ve had better progress on the writing front. Most of this has been over this month (November), but not for the obvious reason, which is NaNo. I didn’t participate in National Novel Writing Month this year.

Instead, I’ve been working on reverse outlining and outlining a couple of different mystery stories. Back in October, I started with working on Independent Investigations 1 again. You may all recall this as being titled, “Boost.” Well, in early October, I realized why I wasn’t working on it—the story I originally conceived was too dark. I used to be able to write dark stuff. Not only that, I actively sought dark ideas to write in my stories. However, I just could not maintain the level of darkness necessary for making the POVMC, Mat, suffer a downward spiral into drug addiction as originally planned. So I rethought things, and realized a way to make it more optimistic while keeping the basics of the story. This was aided by my fiancee, Tess, who made some suggestions about discoveries Mat could make outside of xyr focused investigations into murders. The series is still Independent Investigations, but the new story is titled Acid Reflux.

This meant I basically tossed everything I had of the original story. Outline, notes, all but one of the scenes I’d already written. All of this went into files I’m going to mine for future stuff. Then I restarted the outline in Scapple, without looking at the original outline overmuch. I basically took off from what I remembered of the original manuscript and notes and developed a brand new style of developing stories in Scapple to fit the mystery genre, and I’m writing directly from the Scapple file’s outline instead of transferring the salient points to a plot card in Scrivener. Mainly because most of my Scapple outline notes have too much salient information for me to be able to do that with any ease. Right now, I can’t recall just how many plot points I developed in Scapple, but in about the first week of November, I started writing the new second scene at 500 words a day. Sadly, I didn’t complete it before moving on to something else, but even with the more optimistic future for Mat, the “present” in xyr story was still dark, especially where I was outlining ahead. I just couldn’t make myself go on, and I had fresh ideas for another mystery, so I moved on to that one.

Which one? Masks. To be honest, I hesitated two or three days before digging into this, mainly because I wasn’t sure I wanted to make the leap—or any of the changes to Masks I was already considering. No changes in what I’d already written, aside from edits and stuff, but changes to the latter portions of the story. In order to refresh myself on the project, I did a read-through, then started reverse outlining what I’d written—in detail, and in Scapple, using the new Mystery Outline Method I’d developed for Mat’s story.

I’m still working on the reverse outline, getting about one a day. One of those things took me two days, mostly because it had a lot of information to unpack. I’m being as detailed in these as I have been with the standard outlining I’ve been doing for Mat’s story, and it’s turning out well. Not only that, I’ve come up with a few minor changes for the series Masks kicks off. For one, Yavaniel’s mother is still alive; I decided to make her the source of Yavaniel’s Sublunary Elven heritage. I also realized that my original concept for how the overarching subplot develops needs some work—it was originally crammed into too short a time period. I haven’t quite decided how to handle it, but knowing what needs to be done has enabled me to make progress on concepts and ideas for finishing book one at least. Also, I’ve sketched up a map of Jodalur as a whole so now I have a better idea where specific things are located in each of the different districts. Not all of the districts are named, but I have determined a couple things about the city: 1) They’ve kept up the habit of walling new areas as they’re annexed or settled; 2) Most of the walls around older more central districts are intact to this day; 3) public transit availability varies according to district; and 4) the Maireadi District is actually one of the largest districts, and is comprised of several smaller districts whose walls fell into disuse and disrepair before the section was granted to them by an earlier First Chancellor of Jodalur over 100 years ago—and they’ve rebuilt and repaired the sections of the Wall that lie between their district and Jodalur “proper” in order to give themselves some protection from mobs who periodically gather to invade the Maireadi District.

The past couple days, I haven’t worked on it due to real life stress and stuff, but I plan on getting back to it this weekend. I’ve got some relaxing activities planned that should put me right back into a good mindset for working on my writing. Sadly, these days I don’t seem to be able to use writing as a way to relieve my real-life stress as consistently as I used to be able to.