I've been in a kind of "project limbo" for a while, with most of my writing being on my serial. I had a few ideas kicking around in my head and it looks like I've finally settled on a story. Or perhaps I should say, a story has settled on me. Of course, the one I’m going with is the one I thought I would put off until I felt more ready to handle it.
The working title is FreakTown and it's very different from anything else I've written, except for having magic as the paranormal element. It's futuristic, dystopian, romance, and has a plot straight out of noir. (Somewhere in the story someone is going to say to the main male character, "Forget it, Nate, it's FreakTown." Just because.) I've already done a lot of world-building and written just shy of ten thousand words, and the need for an actual outline has presented itself. Normally I'm a pantser but with the kind of twists and turns I want for this story, an outline is going to be necessary. Right now I'm momentarily paused on the writing so I can work out more plot details. I'm also thinking of doing some characterization exercises so I can have a better handle on my characters, especially the two main ones. By this I mean, opening up a doc and rambling about their background, what they want, what they're afraid of, strengths, weaknesses, and since I relate to music so well figuring out a playlist for each one.
This is going to be the most challenging thing I've ever written. The world-building, the complexity of the plot, the emotional depth - in just about every way, it's going to be harder. At some point, I think you have to do that. You can stay at a level that's comfortable, or you can decide it's time to level up. I can't say if every writer recognizes when it's time to challenge themselves. It wasn't some cosmic signal that told me, you're ready to take your writing to another level. Because I don't know if I am ready. But the desire is certainly there. The desire is very much there. I figure this will either result in a really good book that might actually have some success, or it will blow up in my face and I'll trunk it. Hopefully the former.
Back to the practical. I think that when you're starting a story that you know is going to be really challenging it's a good idea to give yourself a solid base to jump from. All the world-building I've done helps with that and so should the character exercises. It may not sound as romantic as the idea of a writer pouring a story out with no planning, but the truth is I'm tired of not knowing what a book is about until I've written two-thirds of it.
So I'm off to outline my twisty plot and ramble about my characters.