For Chapter 2 I decided to work with an online spreadsheet in Google Documents. The document is located on the Google server and you can work on it in your browser window. You can share the document with as many people as you like and you can even work simultaniously on translations. As the document owner you get a history of all changes to the document and you can set it back to any point in this history in case anything goes wrong. I have to say, this system is a real lifesaver. Translators receive an invitation by mail and can start their work immediately. The spreadsheet format is perfect to copy & paste the texts into the layout. And I have to say that it is a very cool feeling opening up the document and finding several people typing their translations and watching the whole thing grow in realtime.
There are already 22 translators working on the document and we currently have a very nice mix of languages from all over the world including Arabic, Korean and Hindi. I'm really looking forward to provide you all these translations during the next weeks and months.
Concerning Chapter 3, I'm ready now to start the prelim version that precedes every chapter. Last week I returned to the Story Wall and did a major revision on everything that was on it.
Before the revision I simply used the yellow sticky notes to describe the major plot points of each chapter. A few days ago I realized that the plot actually isn't the aspect that I have to concentrate on in my visualization on the wall. I was totally neglecting the most important aspect: the stories. I remembered a line from a book about storytelling I've read a few years ago: "in order to make a good movie you don't need a story. You need a dozen stories!" That was a rather revealing thought for me. Up to that point I naively thought of "story" to be just the description of the things that happen. But that's plot. A "story" is a more abstract construct that describes a certain theme (e.g. "boy loves girl" or "revenge") that is developed through a "story arc" which spans over several "story beats". What I did in my revision is to identify the different stories in my plot and visualize their "beats" with the arrows you see next to the yellow plotline. A story normally has at least three beats in my visualization - introduction, build-up and resolution - but it can have as many beats as you want.
For example, the story with the most beats that I identified in the first two chapters is what I called "Egon Breaks Out". The story is introduced when Egon yells at a car during the carride in Chapter 1. From that point on we know that Egon can become very loud and angry. The story is build up over several beats (Egon wants Jonas to carry his suitcase, Egon asks Jonas to do the homework together, Egon calls for dinner and receives no answer) but it's always calmed down again and never brought over the point of break-out. However, after discovering that Jonas is lying to him, Egon finally breaks out and this is the climax/solution of this story. On my story wall I have marked all climaxes with a black triangle (and minor story resolutions with a black point). As you can see, there are a lot of stories that find their climaxes or resolutions at the end of Chapter 2 and that's exactly what you want when your protagonist starts onto an adventure. You want to leave things behind and create a clean slate for the story arcs of the adventure itself.
After revising the first two chapters I created the plotline and story beats for chapter 3 and 4. As you can see, things develop a lot slower and story beats are less dense. The reason for this is, that I now start story arcs that span over Jonas' whole adventure which is going to be much longer than 2 chapters so there's more time and space to develop the stories. I also have space for exposition, which is marked with green arrows on the wall. At these points I will just dive into the Wormworld and tell you how it works.
I'm quite happy with this system now as it will help me to develop the plot in a way that serves the different stories. Also, the visualization will directly show me when the plot gets too thin meaning that there are not enough story beats that keep the narration from becoming boring.
I'll continue to develop my process and keep you updated on it. I also hope to find some time to go into more detail someday. I consider the storytelling to be one of the most fascinating and challenging aspects of the project.
I'm going to create the prelim version of Chapter 3 now and you are going to hear from me when I'm ready to enter the milestone phase.