On Working on My NaNoWriMo Outline

Hello? Is this mic still on…?

Ah, there it is. The squeal of feedback.

I’ve been busy. And writing. But mostly busy. This happens to all of us from time to time, but it’s been especially bad of late.

One thing I’ve been working on? I’m finally tackling a revision to the Merlin outline. Yes, the on-spec outline for a tie-in novel I wrote after seeing Merlin‘s “The Dragon’s Call” and “Valiant.” The outline that, from time to time, I write that I’m going to de-Merlin-ify into something else.

Well, it’s happening.

I printed off a fresh copy of that old outline towards the end of week before last, and I read it for the first time in about a year. Not to toot my own horn, but it’s good, and it would have made a cracking novel. An editor on the Merlin novelizations in the UK thought so, too, but he took a pass on the book because they weren’t then (and aren’t now) publishing Merlin novels. For a long time I thought I could just file off the Merlin-specific serial numbers by renaming characters — and a year ago I actually started doing that. The more I thought about it, however, the less practical that seemed. There were some very specific Merlin things in that outline that don’t have easy analogues in established legend.

So I’m rebuilding it from the ground up. And I intend to have it ready for NaNoWriMo.

I went back to some of the original sources — Geoffrey and Malory, mainly — to refresh my memory. As I did that, I saw some paths towards accomplishing the same general goals of the Merlin outline in a more traditional Arthurian setting.

The other thing I found was a way to keep Arthur as the central character of the story. For a number of reasons, that was important, but I thought that I would need to change Merlin‘s Prince Arthur into one of the legendary Arthur’s younger knights to make the story work. Arthur’s court of Malory, you see, is not unlike the original Justice Society of America; the knights gather together, they go off and have their own separate adventures, and they return to tell Arthur what they did. However, there are some points in Malory where Arthur gets out of Camelot and goes off on adventures of his own, and I’m going to take advantage of one such moment as a hook for this adventure, one that somehow never went chronicled… :)

The plotting is going surprisingly well. As of this evening, I’ve written five pages of plot, and I have several additional pages of handwritten notes, some that are questions I need to resolve, some that are random ideas, and some that simply don’t go anywhere yet. A breakthrough on this morning’s commute helped me to keep an element of the Merlin story that I liked, didn’t want to lose, and will ultimately lead to some intriguing and unexpected plot conflicts.

The new outline won’t resemble the old outline to any great degree. There will be characters with the same names, obviously, but there will be characters in the Merlin version that won’t carry over, like Morgana and Merlin. (The Morgana role from the original outline is lost completely, while Merlin’s role in the story, though not his magic, will move to another member of Arthur’s court.) The plot catalysts are entirely different — the Merlin outline kicked off with a marriage match storyline for Morgana (which obviously ends up not happening, but I thought it was an interesting idea to play with), while this version starts before the reign of Uther Pendragon (and a decision he makes then will affect his son decades later). I also think this new version will end in an entirely different place, though I’m not there yet in terms of the plot, so I’m not really sure. One thing I am certain of, there will be dragons. :)

I am, however, planning on keeping the title from the Merlin outline. Even though the paths I’m using to get there differ, the title still fits the story intend to tell. However, I’m not going to share it yet because SPOILERS. (On my NaNoWriMo page I’m referring to it as “Spoiler-Titled Arthurian Thing.”)

That’s the plan. Lay the groundwork for a successful NaNoWriMo this week, and when the first rolls around get a good jump on the text. Fifty thousand words won’t finish the book, but it will be a decent chunk of the first draft. :h2g2:

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