You have made it all the way here, so you may as well sit down, take a minute to look around, and enjoy. What you will find, depends on the day and my mood. You just never can tell.

Monday, February 21, 2011


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? 


  1. I'm in the middle. Sometimes I know the general place I am going to go with a story and other times I have no idea and just need to have faith I will end up at the destination. But I rarely stick to an outline when I have done them.

  2. I don't outline and I don't use the flash card or poster board method. I simply write from beginning to end. Considering I write ya fantasy and have a series, people wonder how I keep it all straights. I know the characters so well it's easy for. Unfortunately, that isn't something one can teach an aspiring or new writer. They have to learn it on their own

  3. I'm an excessive planner. I wasn't always this way. I used to be a panster, but I wrote chapter summaries for my YA fantasy and the novel just about wrote itself when I sat down to actually write. Did I ever stray from my summaries? Yes, of course. Sometimes my characters let me know they simply weren't going to do what I wanted them to, and I went with it. But my chapter summaries never truly became useless. They still guided me in a general direction, and I found that extremely helpful.

    Courtney, I think your project board is a form of prewriting. Planning doesn't have to mean an outline. It definitely sounds like you do some planning. You just have your own style of planning that works for you.

  4. I somewhat outline. I write a few scenario's about what I want the story to be about, I come up with a few choices for titles and characters and I write that all down. If I know how I want the story to end, I'll write that down as well. And that's about as far as I get with outlining.

    Sounds like you have a good outlining method that works for you. Me, I'm too impatient to do all that work and put it on a board. I have, however, written character descriptions and such on a board. But I find that all my outlining is simply done on my computer. I usually do this on one page and then begin writing on the next. I get rid of the outline once I know where I'm going with the story.

    Also, I've really only written picture books or children's magazine stories so my methods may change once I begin writing longer stories.

  5. I do outline. It helps me plan everything out and stay organized. I need to have organazation in my writing and know ahead of time where my story is headed. Sometimes before creating an organized outline I kind of write out my story ideas in what I call a spider web. I write my main idea in the center and all the other ideas on lines facing outside of the circle. Then I kind of just write out story ideas as they come in paragraphs. Once I do that I can finally write out a proper outline but not until I go through this process. hugz

  6. I like how you work, Courtney.
    I thought maybe I was an outline person, but I think that's more of a starter base as ideas come to me when they are good and ready. Being aware of certain needs (location, pace, revelations and foreshadowing) as you go is kinda crucial if you are going to pants it. I can't write and write and have it all flow. All areas morph and build. Slowly. Maybe I've done too much website construction. I WISH I could just go for it like some of you!
    I'm going to try your note-card and picture idea. :) Thanks!

  7. I've just given you the One Lovely Blog Award! Come check it out. http://www.kellyhashway.com/apps/blog/show/6233826-one-lovely-blog-award

  8. I do outline, yes - chapter plan, character details - but built in to that is a level of flexibility. I've just had to completely rehash my current WIP due to some rethinking about who should die or survive, and some brainstorming over plot and motivations. Great post.

  9. Hey! Just stopped by to say I've pre-scheduled my response to The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award for the 28th! And thanks so much for awarding my blog!

    Also. . . and I may be completely wrong because your profile picture is rather small. . . but I've been watching Merlin, BBC and I think you look somewhat like the actress who plays Morgause. At least in that show - I've never seen her in anything else. ;) She's one of my favorite characters.

  10. Thanks for the great response everyone on the outline question. Its nice to see that I am not all that differant after all...well at least in that regard.

    Thanks for the Award Kelly. I will try to post up on Friday if I have time, otherwise it will be next week.

    Ladaisi - hahahahaha. Its not me. I swear its not. I enjoy that show when I can catch it, so I know who you mean. Thanks for the compliment nonetheless. LOL