The tiny bit of meticulous process I am working on right now is working through the questions raised in my outline. This is serving several valuable purposes:
- raising questions I need to answer about the setting (“But how does this ability actually work?”)
- identifying holes in detail (“Weren’t those eyes green before?”)
- flagging places in the outline which need significant attention to make them sane (“This a poorly structured diplomatic mission, especially without any diplomats on it.”)
The setting questions are going in the world book, because those are the foundations on which the story is built. The detail observations just go into correcting the outline and thence the text, but I’ll keep them around to validate once the text is done.
However, the thin outline spots want more room for discussion than I want to pollute the outline with so I am putting them into a “hot spots” document. In there I have a series of broad headings for particular spots in the story, and some bullets to capture the flavour of the criticisms I have for each story area. I will then add more discursive content to work things through and record any conclusions.
The goal here is similar to the world book: having the broad categories in front of me so I can pick those things up easily as I pass through the relevant sections. All of this comes back to tracking what I am doing and not entirely losing state when I spend time on other projects.
How do you analyse your stories for inconsistencies and crumminess?