Monday, February 06, 2006

On writing outlines

As my crows of doubt are circling and the procrastination demons are whispering, I am avoiding working on PBB. However, I have had some very good thoughts on where it is going and have written about 1,000 words today, so I am about up to where I was at this time last week, when I had todelete a huge section that wasn't working. Equally I have discovered a way to add back some of the things that weren't working with a slight twist, so I am happy. And Iknow from my brief outline where the story has to go...
The monthly realty check ie the RWR popped through the post the other day. Whether it is because I have had my hardback copies of Gladiator's Honour or something else, I don't know but it didn't frighten me.One article about being left an orphan when your editor leaves, I could sympathise with, but really, having been there and got the t-shirt, it is not about one editor loving your work, but several. Writers are not bought unless a whole host of editors love your work -- unless of course there is only one managing and acquiring editor. In HM&B, books go through several editors and they are not bought unless the acquisitions com says ok. As with any other BIG company, editors are always leaving as they have lives other than the editorial arena. Being open and willing to work with an editor is a big key to success.
The article I was really intrigued about was -- Writing your First draft in 30 days. Instead of it being some article praising the write a novel in a month, it was an interesting way of writing a complete outline before you s tart the book. Now, I write a synopsis, and character sketches. I also go back and layer, layer , layer. At the moment I am inserting new material -- sometimes this works, but other times it takes awhile... Anyway,Karen S Weisner whose first writing reference title is called First Draft in 30 Days advocates writing a full outline that is about a quarter of the intended novel's length, dealing with each scene, POV, and everything you need for a sketch of the novel. There are six steps. One includes giving a setting sketch. In other words, sketching your novel out with regards to location. Doing some preliminary maps. I have not done this before, but could where this might work very well. You start chronologically,and go as far into the story as you can, then when you can no longer work chronologically, you start skipping around, working on scenes that will be in the later stages of the book. You keep working until your outline contains every scene you plan to have in your novels. Then you start going back over the outline, filling in holes. fleshing out scenes with dialogue, desxcription and action. And only once you have the complete skeleton do you begin to serious write and expand.
If you can't write an outline without writing chapters first (ie writing yourself into a novel), you do both. Eventually you should be able to get to the point of being able to write an outline without ever writing a word of your novel. The theory is that you can see the holes much more quickly and be able to fill the structural problems without having to redecorate. Once you are satisfied with your outline, then you add the flesh and bones. In other words, once you have your full outline, all you are doing is layering.
The method seems interesting and so I plan to try it on my next wip and see where I get to. It means I can do some of the initial planning now, when I get stuck on the writing of PBB. Wish me luck.
Has anyone used this method? Do extensive outlines work for you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm going to try revising in this way. Not sure how it'll go, but good luck to both of us!