Friday, December 5, 2008

Outlining...Preparing for Your Project

Thanks to a previous comment I began to think about outlining. When I've used it, has it been an effective tool? The answer, of course, is yes. But it still prompts the question....does it work for everyone? Is it a necessary stage of the writing process? Well....there are differing camps of thought on the subject. I myself use an outline when writing my novels. And it's interesting that in each of the three cases, so far, the process has been the same: stage one - starting out with a general idea of where the story should end; stage two - after writing the first couple of chapters and getting to know my characters, sketch out a basic outline (not too detailed); and stage three - when I get far enough into the story, make the outline more detailed, filling in the blanks so to speak..... and at that point, I'm off and running at breakneck speed. It's exhilarating, by the way. Of course, if a character somewhere along the way has the urge to "break off in another direction" rather than going by way of my plot outline....that's okay, too.

So, when I happened to be directed to a certain author's site and found his description of outlining to be similar, well, I felt....validated, I guess. Maybe that's odd, but it is how I felt. In any case, check out the blog postings he's written (there are several on the topic) and see what you think about outlining.

By the way, I recall watching a television program where a guest author (can't remember the name) confessed he has no clue as to how his book will end as he's writing. He claims that his writing is fresh and spontaneous that way. It seems to work for him, so... if I may quote a popular agent and blogger (Nathan Bransford)..."if it works, it works...."

Check out the site:


yolanda said...

thats an interesting viewpoint. i am a documentary filmmaker, and with documentaries, its unwise to have a preconceived notion about where the film is going to end up, cos you can limit your own expansion in the process. i think with fiction perhaps its helpful to have an idea of where the story is going to go, so long as you remain open to inspiration.


Argentum Vulgaris said...

Sometimes I pre-write a piece, especially a rant, but even the pre-writing is off the cuff, the only advantage is correcting mistakes, proof-reading. Normally I write and post spontaneously, even if the subject goes off at a tangent, so there I agree with Yolanda, about the limiting factor. I try to let my writing take a natural flow and come to a natural conclusion.


brainsnorts said...

i may have already written this comment on one of your other posts, but it can't hurt to repeat it for those who may not have seen it.

writing without an outline is like going on a vacation in which you get in the car and start driving without knowing where you're going. sure, it'll be exciting for the first couple of days and you wind this way, turn that way, and randomly find hidden and interesting places. however, it won't take long before you start to get bored and unsure which way to go next. eventually, you'll just abandon the trip and head back home to start over.

of course, there's a very tiny chance you'll strike upon something fabulous, except that you've got an equal chance of making that same strike when you're driving to work every day.

this site is full of bloggers who had ideas that started out brilliantly interesting, but then their own interest fizzled out and all was given up. there's a girl, kristen, whose blogs i follow. she began a wonderful story about a girl who lived through some kind of nuclear holocaust, trying to live among a new type of uncivilized mentality. it was great, but then she was done because it was all improvised. she had another story that ended up in the same writing graveyard, a vampire story that was also fun to follow until fzzzzzzzzt - gone.

outline, develop, build, make a plan first. i know that seems like work, but good writing IS work. it's okay to make changes along the way, but you have to start with a plan if you're going to get anywhere.