Tuesday, September 28, 2010

To Outline or Not to Outline

On rare occassions, I have free time with just me and my brain. And lately, it seems plot ideas, settings, and characters feel the need to speak to me. My head is full of junk, garbage, but this garbage is finally connecting itself in ways that I could  never have hoped for. Yes, even with a family-a three year old, a three month old and a husband- there is time for aloneness—the hot tub is a prime example. Hot water, bubbles and a cool, misty rain on my face, and ideas started swimming.
One idea and character connect to another and in forty-five minutes of soaking myself to my senses, I had outlined a book from beginning to end –all in my head. Getting it in the computer was another thing. You can’t take your laptop on vacation to the hot tub and expect to make it out without being electrocuted. But there are always the hours after your husband and children are asleep and you brain is screaming thank you’s at all of them.
In those hours, magic happens. Seventeen chapter of magic in the form of an outline complete with character sketches, setting, time span of the book, and oh yes, there’s plot, lots of plot. I finished it the next day, and the outline is complete at twenty-four chapters. It’s Young Adult, so the plot’s not complex and the word count requirement is considerably less. We’ll see if I can pull it off.
But there’s more…
I’ve started another outline already. . .
Outlining is truly the only way to go if you have a ton of ideas in your head. If you outline every idea you have, you can never not make yourself go back to writing it. Outlining is half the battle. Once you outline, you should be able to slap a synopsis together, which some agents still want, and the book should fall into place with ease.
I may never revert to the write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants method again. Well, at least not until November for the National Novel Writers Month  (NaNoWriMo), where using that method is the only requirement for participation.     
I’m a convert, what can I say!
Happy reading. Happier writing.

1 comment:

pandoraschoice said...

I'm glad you have finally converted, though I find this post fairly amusing. Weren't you just telling me that you have never outlined and don't understand how people can do it? ;)

Outlining is great because you can see the whole picture right in front of you and can tweak so much before you even start writing. Tweaking things after is more difficult because it forces you to potentially rewrite entire chapters.

I'm glad things are working out for you and that you are finding some alone time to let your ideas grow. I can't wait to read!