I actually had quite the productive week. Not only did I finally finish my WIP, A Howl in the Night, but also I sent it out to the first publisher on my list. This is good as now I can spend my time finishing up the second installment in the Shadow Dancer series. I have a first draft completed, and have a partial edit/revise done. I have learned a valuable lesson in the process of writing these two novels. I am able to work on a novel and several small projects at the same time without any problem or issues. But, I am not able to work on two novels at once. It bogged me down and overwhelmed me. I also found myself thinking about one story while trying to work on the other and that just made a mess. From now on, only one novel project at a time. Good to know for future reference.
Now that I can focus again, I pulled out my outline for Shadow Warrior and saw that I didn’t stick to my outline at all. I thought I would give outlines a whirl. See if or how they might help me. In the end, it didn’t….
There are loads of reasons to outline a project. It gives you boundaries to work within. It gets the ideas you have out on paper and in front of you. It can help you get a better look at the story in general to find the holes, lost character lines, and loose plot ends. It also can give you something to refer back to if you get lost within your story.
Some writers love to outline as much as they love to write the story itself. They thrive on the planning and the background creation. They are excited to get to the end of the story in outline form. They like the lines they have drawn and are ready to get to the meat of it.
Me? I hate to outline. One of the reasons why is that I don’t know where the story is going to go until I am writing it. Sometimes the characters want to do their own thing and no matter how hard I try, they wont fit into the lines I set for them. I take the fork in the road not intended and wind up in an adventure. Outlines stifle me.
How do I keep all my ideas in order then? I have a project board I work off of, where I have pictures I’ve drawn of people I intend to use; note cards laid out with characterizations and their backgrounds; research taped and stapled here and there; magazine pictures ripped out and tacked up. No, I don’t outline, and from someone else’s standpoint it may look like a mess. To me, it’s laid out beautifully. There is a process in my chaos. Maybe in my own way, that is my outline.
So, let’s hear it. Do you outline? Do you fly by the seat of your pants? Or, do you end up somewhere in the middle like I do?