To Outline or Not to Outline

Or, how not to outline until the end of time… maybe.

Unfortunately, there won’t be quite the same gif-related shenanigans as last week. Hopefully, I’ll make it up by being coherent this time.

So what are ya rambling about this time?

Outlines, obviously. Didn’t you read the title?

After I posted about waffles last week, I decided that I should probably click around to make sure nothing on my site broke in my absence. Nothing had, which was good, and while I was at it I also decided to read through my previous entries because why not?

It was then I noticed something that bugged me. And it was too late to address in that week’s update, as that had already gone live.[1]Editing? What is this editing of which you speak?

What bugged me was my inability to describe a myriad of activities related to pre-writing as anything other than “Outlining,” and how this gave the impression that I had trapped myself in some sort of Pre-Writing Limbo.

Which I haven’t. I promise. Yes, even with my tendencies. That isn’t what’s happening. I swear.

What I was doing before was more along the lines of figuring out how to get to the ending I have in mind. Big strokes. For example:

If I want to have Mary fight the dragon in a swamp at the end of the story, but this whole thing starts with her in a ballet troupe somewhere in Nevada, how am I going to get them there?

I know, I can have the troupe go on tour! Ballet people do that, right?[2]Note, this is not a story I’m working on. It could potentially become that with enough demand, but this is just supposed to be a silly example.

That level of detail.

What I’m doing now is more to help cut down on the time it will take me to write chapters in the future.

My pattern of writing a chapter tends to be:

  • Write until I get stuck
  • Journal until I figure out why I’m stuck
  • Do whatever I need to do to get unstuck
    • Note: This can include anything from researching medieval inns to figuring out worldbuilding details that may never see the light of day. Usually, it’s that I have no clear idea of what is going to happen in any given scene. See here for an example.
  • Repeat

As a method, this isn’t too bad. But it is painstakingly slow, so I’m trying to get as much preventative journaling done as I can. I’m not dealing with worldbuilding or potential research points. I’m willing to stop and tackle those as they come,[3]Which seems like the most efficient way of handling that kind of thing, anyway. but I’m trying to get the “what’s happening next” down in a bit more detail than “Troupe goes on tour –> Mary fights dragon.”

I’m very close to the end, and I’m still going to do scene details as they come up, but that’s what I’ve been spending the last 9 months or so doing.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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So, what do you think?

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