Up until last week, I hated outlines. I never used them. I never understood them. And in their defense, I never tried to use them before.
I always felt writing should be organic, free flowing, let the story come to me as it may… yeah, well, that’s all fine in the sense of writing as an art. In reality, every artist has a plan for their work. They can “free hand” things for a while, but eventually, you need a plan.
When I’m writing a new song, I don’t just hit record and see what happens. That would be scary. And awful. I record riffs and parts of songs and lyrics, yes, but when it comes time to sit down and record the actual song, I have a sheet in front of me with all the parts needed to be recorded.
And the same should be with my writing. Maybe not for you, but right now, at the current state of my life, this is my shot. I have blogged about my backlist, which I am working on. But I refuse to stop producing fresh content.
One of the many things I hear when I talk to other writers is how they get so far and then just stop. They lose the story, their motivation, whatever. And it happens to the best of us, all the time. My plan of attack to this has been simple: work on multiple projects. When I get burned on out a story, I turn to editing. When I get sick of editing, I turn to the story.
But now I’m at the point where I have several projects just swelling in my head. To the point that I wish I had eight clones of myself to work. So I’ve resorted to the outline.
I hate losing ideas. I hate losing parts, sections, everything. Sure getting it on paper works, but I want it in the story. I want to look and see the entire book I’m working on because I also like jumping around a little. Sometimes it’s fun to write parts out of order a little… I’m not sure how many people sit down and write from page one until page END without moving around. The downfall to moving around is that if you’re not organized, it gets messy. (Trust me, I’m cleaning up a 90,000 word book I started last summer that is a mess…)
To do my outline, I first write it free hand on a piece of paper. Then I open Excel and work from there. Once it’s done, it’s notes and arrows galore. I erase the margins, set it to print landscape, and voila, I’ve myself a nice cheat sheet for my project.
I like this because when I jump from project to project, there’s no lag time. There’s no reading previous sections to find out where I was – it’s simply open a new screen and start typing.
It’s been going smooth for me, so much so, that I regret not using outlines like this before. Now I do not point out every single detail and scene, I just have the path the story should travel. Each bullet has plenty of room to work within so that I can create the story. Nothing’s worse than a robotic sounding and reading story.
With that said, I have another outline to do…