I finished act 4 of "Journey to Jusenkyo" on Tuesday or so. I had to re-outline the last three acts in order for it to make sense (and then, working on act 5, I had to reoutline that whole beginning in order to make that work). Again, I'm somewhat displeased that I've gone through so many iteration cycles with Identity outlines. It may still be that outlining only in broad strokes is biting me, even if I would've had to redo those outlines. Modifying an existing outline at least might've saved me some time and a step. I did, however, outline all of chapter 4, knowing how connected 3 and 4 are, and while that may require modification, it does give me an idea how where I need to go. A better idea.
All this reinforces, in my mind, the idea that writing is a creative process. That may seem obvious, but it's also a continual process. If you're like me and you write, you come up with a story idea and maybe you have one or two specific things you see in your mind. A premise, a concept, a beginning or an ending. With Identity one of the big things I saw in my mind was Wuya (bear in mind, I didn't even have a name for her as a girl, only the name Kohl) tracking down Ranma in Nerima, squaring off with him, and bringing her Sorcerer Guard minions to attack Ranma in the Tendou home and chase down Akane as she revisited the events of the day in the rain.
You'll notice right away, if you've read the story, that this doesn't happen. Ranma fights Kohl, but at Jusenkyo. The idea went through an iterative process, where I wanted the connection to China and a compelling reason for Ranma to go there. What Shampoo and Ukyo did on that day are the same. What Akane did is the same. But early on I made the choice that Ranma going ahead to get his cure was something that shouldn't be interrupted by Kohl and his men just happening to track him down in Japan. Ideas change. And the ending I had for that chapter, while still largely intact (Ranma summons the power of Shishi Hokoudan), one of the big reasons he does so is changed (and will appear in chapter six). Again, modification, evolution of ideas. You have to think about things and get them to fit. And while I do have a plan for this novel and all three of its books, it does require some polishing. I'm certain when I finish book one, I'll take a couple weeks and outline book two in greater detail. Perhaps chapter by chapter, scene by scene, even if I end up tossing those outlines like I did with Echoes. I hope I don't, because I want to be fast, but you can't make it fast.
Even on a smaller scale, this is so. This chapter I have a battle scene at the end, a scene I've hardly outlined any detail of because battle scenes are so particular, and this one is especially complex. I think this will probably bite me, for while I know what needs to happen, I don't know what needs to happen to get to that point. This is what I've come to call narrative glue, and it serves several purposes. Sometimes, you need it for pacing. Sometimes, you need it just to make things make sense. I do worry, though, for I feel like I'm writing a lot of glue and not actually gluing a lot of things together. Part of it is the reason I want to be writing this story, though: it's all about characters and state of mind, about people making sense of the world and themselves. It's introspective. And it's wordy. I mean, I'm about to finish third chapter and will probably be around 80k. Worrisome, perhaps. Who can say.
More and more I'm certain that I'm going to start posting Identity in weekly act installments. I think this will overall make it more readable. It will also be something different; I don't know of any other story that advertises doing that. The big question will be whether I can finish, say, chapter 4 in the six or seven weeks I'd plan to post 3. That's a big if. Maybe a deadline will be good, but I don't want to set myself up for failure either.