This is part of my ongoing series where I’m documenting the development of my serial novel, Razor Mountain. Be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead!
Last time, I decided that Christopher has trauma in his back-story: an accident he blames himself for, which killed his brother. As a result, he’s risk-averse to an unhealthy degree.
I also put together the first act-level outline of the story:
- Act I – Christopher crash-lands, surviving but injured. He finds a bunker, and signs that people once lived here, but the surrounding wilderness seems empty. Lost and alone, he must work up the courage to strike out and search for a way back to civilization. He travels to Razor Mountain, encountering one mysterious stranger who helps him, and others who shoot at him from a distance. He must also survive the wilderness.
- Act II – Christopher meets the Razor Mountain outcasts, and learns about the main group from them. He’s brought to the main group, imprisoned and interrogated. He comes to the attention of the ruling council.
- Act III – Christopher learns that he is God-Speaker. He navigates the politics of the council, trying to learn who is with him and against him. He recovers his memories and has to decide to use the artifacts to undo everything he has created at Razor Mountain.
God-Speaker has his own arc that runs in parallel to Christopher. Christopher’s first act ends with him finding Razor Mountain, and it would be nice symmetry to have God-Speaker first find the mountain at the end of the first act too.
One of the biggest reveals of the story is that Christopher is God-Speaker. It makes sense for God-Speaker’s story to wrap up at the same time as this reveal. After that, Christopher’s arc and conflict merge with God-Speaker’s, and the story wraps up.
The middle of God-Speaker’s story feels like it breaks down into two sections. The first section is about building up everything that Christopher finds at Razor Mountain. God-Speaker spends thousands of years building up and maintaining Razor Mountain, so that portion of the story will need to be told in a handful of vignettes across that huge span of time.
The second part will be about the machinations of his inner circle, leading to his eventual downfall. Comparatively, this section will cover a much shorter span of time.
This is even rougher than Christopher’s, but enough for the first attempt at the act-level God-Speaker outline.
- Act I – God-Speaker’s tribe is attacked by other migrating tribes. They travel, and the tribe members die off one by one, until God-Speaker is alone and lost in the mountains. The artifacts call out to him, and he follows a cave into the heart of Razor Mountain.
- Act II – God-Speaker uses the artifacts and his newfound powers to gain control of several migrating tribes, bringing them to Razor Mountain. Over thousands of years, he grows more jaded and disinterested in the lives of the people he rules over, using them to further his own ends, build up his stronghold, and insulate himself from danger. He learns how to use the artifacts to keep himself alive and in power.
- Act III – God-Speaker manipulates politics among his inner circle, allowing a plot against him to progress so that he can weed out disloyal followers. However, he underestimates his enemies and is thrown into a random new body: Christopher.
The First Two Chapter Outlines
With an act-level outline for Christopher and God-Speaker that’s more detailed at the start than the middle and end, I can at least start digging into the first few chapters.
Chapter 1 – Christopher wakes up on a small plane over the Alaskan wilderness. Everyone else is missing. With no parachute and running out of fuel, he jumps over open water. He survives the fall with an injured leg and manages to swim to shore. Freezing and hurt, he looks for shelter. He finds a strange door in a cliff side, with a number pad. He puts in random numbers, and the door unlocks. He stumbles inside, passing out from cold and exhaustion.
Chapter 2 – God-Speaker and his tribe prepare for the winter migration. He prepares the tribe’s stone god. Another tribe attacks. They’re driven off, but several members of his tribe are killed or injured in the process, and supplies are stolen. They begin the migration dispirited.
I created an act-level outline for God-Speaker and chapter outlines for the first two chapters – one following Christopher, and one flashing back to God-Speaker.
Next time, I’d like to think about some of the secondary characters that will be needed for the first act. I also need to think through the Razor Mountain factions more, and possibly continue developing chapter outlines.