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Outlining Outlining
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Today Mary and I finished the outine for Seven For A Secret, our next Byzantine mystery novel. It came to about 7,500 words -- eighteen single spaced pages -- almost exactly the same length as every other outline we've ever done. We never aim for a particular size, but that seems to be how many words it takes to set down the basic premise and clues and some barebones descriptions of the 55 or 60 scenes in one of our short mysteries.

Since we began the outlining process on March 12, we also took our accustomed two weeks or so. Not that we spend two solid working weeks feverishly writing and rewriting those same 7,5000 words. It just seems to take that long for us to bat ideas back and forth, for characters to show up, connections to form, the holes that inevitably show up as plots grow to resolve themselves.

Most of the time we're doing other things. We'll research sixth century legal procedure or mosaics. Talk. Quietly. Loudly. Trade notes - "n.b. September 542 is ten years after the Nika riots." From time to time one of us will cry out something like -- "Wait! Remember the fake centaur skeleton!"

Occassionally a bit is written, a new scene tacked on, an old one expanded. At some point we figure we have enough to work with, even though we know, from experience, that once we begin to write, a lot of the outline will go out the window. We'd both be surprised if the final few scenes bear any resemblance to the ones we've sketeched.

If that weren't the case, thecomposition itself would be an unendurable bore.

So now we're done making the book up, we'll need to get writing and making it up all over again.

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