I spent an inordinate amount of time with The Once and Future King today, because my computer, on which I was legitimately writing, was suddenly commandeered for use in YouTube instructional videos depicting the steps needed to dismantle one's nerf guns. Yes, there are such videos.
Legitimately writing? Well, yes. I know I haven't done that in a while, but today I finally settled down and did it. After that first chapter of Thin Ice, I'd been rather in a pickle. I didn't want to go any further until I had an idea of how the book was going to pan out. An outline, by some definitions. And you know how much I love outlines; I procrastinated, but even procrastinating has its good points. I've spent these days working out kinks in Thin Ice, in my head. My head is very good at working out kinks.
My first priority was to make sure it didn't go too long. Ivolet is too long; I'm going to have to address it when I return (oh. joy.), and I didn't want to have to remedy the same mistake twice if I didn't have to. Since the first chapter was about 3000 words, I decided to go on a journey to discover the proper word length of chapters, divide 80,000 (the average number of words in a YA book) by that number, and discover the number of chapters in my book. I planned to then plan my outline accordingly.
There is no proper word length of chapters. There are guesses at the "page length" (book pages or manuscript pages? they have yet to tell me) of chapters. Fifteen "pages" seems to be a right number for that. But I don't work with pages because they are way too subjective (and they're hard to transfer from WordPerfect, Word 2003, and Word 2007, whatever the case may be). So I was stuck. Eventually I found some information that led me to think that 3000 was as good an estimate as the next person's, so I went with that.
The end result? Twenty-six, 3000-word chapters. Not bad. (Yes, I know my math is rounded something wacky.)
Once I settled upon the number of my chapters, I began to make a numbered list of the scenes I had in my head. There were some that didn't quite have a place in the chronology, I just knew that they happened. When I'd put down everything I could think of (and it ended quite nicely at twenty-six), I began to arrange them in order. First, I organized the ones that had to be in specific order. I then put what was left in slots where they were most needed to give plot and motive. In the end, I combined a couple, which put me at twenty-four chapters.
I designed the outline with twenty-six in mind and have twenty-four chapters marked out. I left the two extra, because we all know how well I stick to outlines and the things I'll add. I have a feeling one or two of the chapters could go long, and we wouldn't want to leave some padding. But they're marked out! This is cause to rejoice!
With Ivolet, it took me days, maybe even weeks, to make the outline I ended up working with. I made this one in one day. Very happy about this.