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!
I made an initial attempt at God-Speaker’s act-level outline. I also started chapter-level outlines with the first two chapters.
I spent a little time thinking about secondary characters that Christopher will encounter in the first act or early in the second act.
- Hunter – This girl, a young teenager, was born with a congenital disorder of the throat that prevents her from speaking. She is one of the exiles from Razor Mountain, and the most adept at surviving in the wilderness. She happens upon Christopher while he’s traveling and helps him. I felt like an unusual name, so I’m going to call her Amaranth.
- Exile Traitors – A pair of brothers who have become disillusioned with the exiles. They’re looking for a way to get back in the good graces of the main group, and attempt to trade Christopher for forgiveness of their desertion. I’m calling them Garret and Harold.
- Exile Leader – A woman named Ema. She became skeptical of the propaganda fed to the inhabitants of Razor Mountain and led the other exiles to try to escape.
Razor Mountain Factions
So far, I see the need for three factions: the exiles, the “main” faction, and the council who are the shadowy ruling group that knows about God-Speaker. The relationship between exiles and “main” group is straightforward. The exiles left the main group, distrusting the propaganda. The two exile traitors were initially excited to leave Razor Mountain, but their opinions quickly changed once they realized how difficult it would be to survive in the wilderness long enough to find civilization – especially since the residents of Razor Mountain don’t really know much about the outside world.
The interactions of the council and the “main” group are less clear. There are several problems to solve.
- The council probably replenishes its members from the main group. How does this happen?
- The council has to exercise control over the main group. What propaganda do they use to pacify the main group?
- How does the main group see the outside world, and their place in it? Does anyone from Razor Mountain go out into the outside world or interact with it? Even if they somehow remain hidden and are largely self-sufficient, they’ll probably need some interaction with the outside world.
- Names. As usual, when I notice myself needing to type vague names over and over (like “the main group”), I know it’s time to come up with a name. What does this main group call themselves?
To enforce order and strict hierarchy, I think it makes sense for the main group to have a militaristic bent, which means military hierarchy and ranks. I don’t know too much about military organization, so I did some searching. Generally, it seems that divisions contain brigades/groups, which contain regiments. Regiments are up to about 5000 soldiers, containing a few battalions.
For a robust, reasonably functional, mostly self-sufficient society, my gut instinct is that hundreds (and probably a few thousand) people are necessary. So a regiment is a good top-end for the size of the main group. I picked a random 3-digit number that’s well above any modern US regiment number: the 550th Infantry Regiment. I’m thinking that the propaganda of Razor Mountain claims that this military organization is a secret part of the US armed services, even though there is no actual connection.
Numeric identifiers don’t stick well in most people’s minds, so my inclination is to give the regiment a nickname. Many of the nicknames of Army regiments are cryptic or related to some obscure historical context. There might be some interesting context for this group at some point, but for now, I’ll just give them an animal appropriate to their surroundings – “the Lynx.”
Moving to Scrivener
Now that I’m into the chapter outlines and I’m starting to gather a variety of different notes – research, factions, and characters, I’m at the point where I generally start moving everything into a Scrivener project. Scrivener is a tool that merges word processor and writing project management. If you’re curious, I just wrote a whole post about Scrivener.
I got my paltry two chapter outlines into Scrivener, and I’ll be adding to character descriptions and other notes as I go.
I came up with brief descriptions for the hunter, Amaranth; the exile leader, Ema; and the exile traitors, the brothers, Garrett and Harold. Amaranth is the most important for the first act. I named the “main group” at Razor Mountain the 550th Infantry Regiment (the Lynx).
Next time, I’d like to get more Act I chapters outlined, and let any challenges that come up dictate what I work on next.