I have months and months and months of material I’ve generated on this story that kind of gets out of sight, out of mind, and I wanted to sift through it before I really started to draw a picture of what my plot was going to look like.
So that’s what I did this week–I started going back over it all, pulling out the bits I like and gathering them up with the intention, when I’m done, of organizing them into something resembling an outline. I say “something resembling” because of the previously mentioned unmixy-ness of me and outlines.
Let me backtrack here. I have been writing fiction since I was eleven. And, in a more or less serious way, since I was 29, which I will admit was
one 16 year(s) ago. I know a fair bit about my own process, and while I will also admit not outlining can lead to meandering story lines (::cough::myoldnovel::cough::), I also know that the best ideas come to me when I’m actually writing, and not before hand, and that outlining–at least, an initial outline–is going to get utterly trashed by the end of the first draft, which will resemble it very little when it is finished.
I’m going off on this a little because I went to a seminar Wednesday night at Good ol’ Changing Hands bookstore, which is really handy to me and offers inexpensive writing seminars taught by real published authors. This one was better than the last one, in which the guy just lectured. The woman who taught this week’s workshop (who incidentally, is the sister of fantasy author Terry Brooks, and a published novelist and playwright in her own right) actually had us do right-brain idea-triggering exercises and invited people to share the results.
The topic of the workshop was “the dreaded outline”, and she spoke some about the advantages of outlines, which were extensive. And to be honest, I could not have written two seasons of The Destroyer without outlining. But I never outlined the whole season before hand. That would have been mega-boring. What I did was have an idea about where I wanted to take Connor by the end of the season, and a few “episode ideas” I thought might be fun, but I didn’t know ahead of time how the season would play out at all. I made it up as I went along, outlining individual episodes before I wrote *them*, and getting my ideas for the next episode from what was suggested by the previous one, but really, I only had a clear idea what an episode would be about maybe one, or two episodes in advance.
I went to the outline workshop hoping to pick up some pointers as I segue into planning my new novel. I am totally willing to change my ways and do an outline. I just was not convinced, and am now even less convinced, that using one is going to be all that useful for me. Certainly not as a “blueprint” for the story.
Before I start having the appearance of protesting too much, I will state that I still do fully intend to do something resembling an outline, but it will be tentative and vague at best, and I will keep revising it as the writing the actual story gives me better ideas. ‘Cause you know, getting “off track,” that’s when the real story-telling happens.