It’s Starting to Look Like an Outline

Even though I gave up on my outline plan early on, I haven’t given up on outlining. The work I did on the brainstorming and working out some of the details really helped me get a handle on the story I want to tell. I also now have an idea about the kids, the camp, and the source of their powers. I still need to work on the killer, and some details about where the main action is taking place, but at least I have a complete story, with a beginning, middle, and end.

I decided that the powers are going to come from cosmic radiation infecting the MREs. The radiation will come from a meteorite found by one of the camp counselors. I’m thinking of introducing this using a prologue showing the counselor finding the rock and putting it in the cupboard. I’m toying with the idea of having something happen to the counselor, but I haven’t decided yet how that will go.

I have also been thinking about the camp and its counselors in another way. My original plan was to drop the kids in the middle of the woods after a tornado and having them have to deal with being alone, injured, and far from home. Then I started thinking about the possibility of using one of the camp counselors as the killer, to bring the murders a little bit closer to home. The problem with that idea is that I don’t want to disparage the good work that camps like this actually do. I have the utmost respect for the people who work with troubled teens in an effort to get them back on track, and if I make one of the counselors the killer that could get a bad reaction from the people involved in those efforts. On the other hand, maybe there are people out there involved in these types of programs when they shouldn’t be. It’s kind of like the problem with the Catholic priests abusing the altar boys. 99% of the priests may have been fine people who wouldn’t even think of doing something like that. But the problem continued for years because nobody wanted to say anything against the church so that they could do something about that 1% who were ruining the lives of those young boys. I think it might make the story more powerful, and certainly make it harder for the kids to bring the killer to justice if it was one of the counselors. It would also open up the story to allow me to bring in some of the other counselors to show the good work they do.

It’s a conundrum. If I go with that plan, the storm would still happen, but the kids won’t be swept away in a tornado. Instead, they could be isolated on a backpacking or canoeing trip, along with the killer counselor and maybe one other adult. The killer might bring them to the cabin where he has been killing his victims simply to provide shelter from the storm, and then have to cover his tracks later when the kids start finding the bodies. I’m still trying to decide which way to go. Does anyone out there have any advice?

Another concern that I have is in regards to the camp. It has been over 25 years since I attended any kind of summer camp, and I simply don’t have any experience with the kinds of programs that they might use for troubled teens. I’m thinking of putting in things like one-on-one sessions with counselors, as well as group therapy where the kids share how they got into trouble in the first place and why they want to turn things around for themselves. What I really need to do is contact some of the camps in my area and ask some questions. The problem is that the two closest ones that I found are a six to eight-hour drive from my house. I was planning on going on a research trip for my vacation in a couple of weeks, but my plans were to head in the other direction and do some research for my last Valkyrie story. I’m willing to change my plans, but my wife isn’t so adaptable. She wants to stick to the original plan and maybe deal with the summer camp issue some other time.

I wonder if some of the urban programs might serve as a model for what they might do in the wilderness? Either way, I have research to do. I’m not sure if I will do that research before I start writing, or after my first draft, but it will have to be done eventually to make sure I don’t screw something up. This is actually a reason for me to use the tornado idea. It would let me pull the kids out of there before I have to start worrying about how the camp operates.

I’m going to go back to my modeling website to find a good villain or two. If I’m going to have a good counselor to offset the bad one I will need to pick out one of those as well. Or maybe I could go back to one of the websites for the real camps and pull out a picture from their photo gallery. That might be even better.

My plan is to finish what I can of the outline this week. I would like to start writing on July 1, but that depends on whether or not I do my research before or after the first draft. I’ll probably go with after, even though it could mean a drastic rewrite after the research is done. The good thing is that I would be writing again, and considering the length of time since I have done any actual writing, I think it would be better to jump back in even if I’m not quite ready.

Thanks for sticking around with me. I’ll post again on Wednesday to let you know how close I am to being ready to write, and I’ll probably be joining the ROW80 group again for the next round starting July 1. See you later!

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