I Finished My Outline! Now, I Need To Figure Out What To Work On Next.

Subspaceman20

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Hello! I'm new here and I'm excited to take part in discussions with you all. I just finished my first novel outline last night, which is over 20,000 words long. It seems like the logical next step would be to work on a first draft. However, I'm intending for this novel to be a "launchpad" for an interconnected universe" of stories, so I'm wondering if I should work on world-building and setting up lore and mythology, or if I should just go on with working on the book I've already started and take it from there. I'd appreciate any advice you have. Thank you!
 

tinkerdan

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I'd continue to write for sure.
Also, as you write you will start to get some concrete notions of what you need in world building. Ninety percent of your world building should never make it fully into any book. However you need to know how your world works to get that ten percent correct and to know what ten percent is important enough to put in the book.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I agree with tinkerdan. You should write the first draft. I also agree with him about how much you need to know about your world versus how much of the worldbuilding actually goes into the narrative.

From this point on, and especially in the first draft where you are still figuring things out, worldbuilding and writing the story can go hand-in-hand, as each may throw important light on the other. In many ways, plot and setting and backstory are aspects of the same thing, which is the situation in which your characters find themselves, which (along with their own personalities) is what will influence their actions. As you write the story you will find out what you need from the worldbuilding and as you expand on the worldbuilding you will find out what is possible for your characters. In later drafts you will probably have most or all of the worldbuilding in place, but for the earliest drafts you should feel free to give your imagination free-rein. (Also feel free to over-write and put in more of the worldbuilding/lore/mythology/etc. than you will include in the final finished draft. You can always take some of it out later, but you may use the the early stages to explore these things and discover where and how they are important to the development of the story, where and how you can hint at them in the narrative without long complex explanations and where a fuller explanation may add depth to the story, the setting, and the characters. You may find yourself going back and forth between periods of intense work on the story telling and intense periods of research or worldbuilding, and that's perfectly OK. You have the freedom at this point to devote yourself to whichever parts of the writing process inspire and excite you, and the freedom to switch from one to the other as interest in one aspect stalls and creativity in another area guides your efforts in another direction. Follow your instincts in these matters because they may be telling you what you need to figure out before you can productively address the rest.)
 

sknox

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Why not do both? I've written four novels and I'm still working on worldbuilding. No reason to force one to follow the other.
 

Biskit

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I agree with @tinkerdan and @Teresa Edgerton - write and build.

You need the world-building to keep your story consistent, but you need to know what your story is to inform your world-building.

I find that there are two hazards with world-building (and I'm pretty minimalist on it):

1: It's compulsive and very easy to get sucked into ever finer detail to the point that you never get as far as writing the story.

2: It can become set in stone before you've written the story, rather than being a part of the writing process which needs editing, revising and rethinking until it's right.

Since this is your first novel, the other essential piece of advice has to be "just get it written". When you have that first draft, then it's time to ask yourself a few questions.

1: Does it look perfect and ready to publish? If yes, hit your head against a wall until the delusion goes away.

2: What do I need to fix? The story? The writing? The world-building?

:giggle: Good luck, and welcome to Chrons.
 

tinkerdan

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At first I thought that was a bit fat...
I don't write outlines, but my first thought is that if you have one that long, why wait to write the book?
However, there is the mention of a series in the OP and until I finished my first draft of my series I wasn't sure where it was all going.
My first draft was almost 700k words.
When I started editing that I cut it into 2 books at around 200K each.
But the point is that an outline for the entire series is easily around 20k unless you make your points succinct.
 

Thiswriterinme

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The answer to this question is really going to be up to your writing style and your writing process, regardless of all the great advice that has been offered already :)

Some writers literally can't start writing a book until they have the outline done, the world completely built, characters designed, and chapters planned. These writers are affectionately referred to as the Planners, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. This can be a great way to have consistency and completed plot points and progression before you ever write a draft. It might take away from some spontaneity though, and the ability to evolve the plot and story as its written, depending on how rigid the planning is.

Other writers like to write first and then go back and world build later. They get the creative bug and need to write the entire first draft before they construct any character profiles or solidify their world-building. This could be considered intuitive writing because they just follow the creative flow rather than have any idea where they want the story to go. Eventually, world-building, character creation, and planning will have to get done, or there could be major plot holes and inconsistencies throughout the story.

Then, there is the halfway point, a type of writing I have heard referred to by George R. R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson as "gardening" writing. This is where a writer plans and writes at the same time, kind of going back and forth between world building, character creation, and actively writing the story as needed. That seems to be in line with what a few of the other respondents have said.

You might not know what your process is, and maybe you won't until you do start writing. I find that I have an even weirder writing process where I start with intuitive writing, but I inevitably hit a point where world-building has to take place (usually around 70k-100k words or so). Then, while I'm world-building, planning, etc. I start to encounter changes I want to make to the story, plot, and characters I've already written. So, before I can progress, I have to go back and make the necessary changes. My method is a bit chaotic, but it allows me to write, plan/world build and make changes in the story as well as to my world-building as needed.

It is true that writing will help inform your world-building, but world-building can also help inform your writing. Just because you do put something in an outline or character profile doesn't mean it can't be changed later, or evolve along with your story. Use the method or style that works for you, or pick and choose parts of each that resonate with you. Good luck with your writing!
 
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