Tuesday, March 24, 2009

To Outline or Not

I have begun writing the third book in the Niki Alexander series and, after much deliberation over how I wrote the last two books, and the unpublished before that, I decided to do go about the process differently. Normally I would plow into the story after getting a rush of inspiration. Then by page 50, I would brake, because I had nowhere to go.

Finally I would start the outline, draw of graph of plot points and beats, write characters studies, motives and goals for my main characters, especially for the villain. Then I could continue, and track my progress with chapter outlines - after I write them. By then, I found I needed to change the first 50 pages and rethink that first rush of inspiration.

This time I made the decision to plot first, write later. Sounds logical, doesn't it? But I know many writers who don't outline, just go where the story takes them. I've done that in the past and would end up writing 30 or more drafts until I figured it all out. A couple of times I got so stuck and confused, I never finished the manuscript. So maybe I'm an outline-type writer. Maybe because I'm a Virgo.

And since I made that decision, my thoughts have never strayed far from my plot. Questions, some answers, arguments, maybe a different direction have consumed my thoughts - during the day when I'm driving, working, eating. Even my dreams get the backlash. I write down my thoughts when I can and the seeds of these ideas spring forth more ideas. Scratch one, add two. The more I work at it, the more sense it starts to make and I can see a novel developing.

I'm not finished plotting yet, far from it. But I'm hoping that when I am, the story in its full incarnation will spill onto the page effortlessly. Yeah, that'll happen. Well, maybe it will. I'll let you know.

Meanwhile, what are your thoughts about outlining first?


Vonna said...

Hi Laura; I enjoyed your post.

I am the sort of person who prints out maps before I leave my house because I can't stand the tension of not being sure how to get to my destination. Novel writing is like that for me. I want to know the best route to the end before I write two hundred pages and find that my plot got lost on the way.

Carol Kilgore said...

I make vague, plot point, outlines. I do know the ending. Sometimes I follow them all the way. Sometimes I stray, but usually not too far.

I'm plotting this to let you know I'm tagging you with the I Cannot Tell a Lie meme.

Check Under the Tiki Hut for details.

Helen Ginger said...

Sounds like you've hit on what works for you! Congrats.

I like to have a general idea of where I'm going before I start.

Straight From Hel