I give up. I’m not giving up my writing, just giving up my resistance to outlining. Eighty-three thousand words in and now I decide to outline. Why?
For one thing, I began my novel way back on the 5th September, 2011. It fizzled right off towards the end of 2012. I gave myself time to brainstorm and started off with renewed enthusiasm in the new year, 2013, but then Mr R’s youngest son died towards the end of January. I hardly wrote the rest of the year. The usual New Years Resolution saw me get back into it again, and I have been pretty consistent so far. I like what I have written, as long as I am the only one who gets to read it!
I think it is about time I knew how it will end. The ideas I have are far too vague. I don’t really know if there is a real theme. I don’t like the idea of my son-in-law reading what I have written so far, and then there is my newly minted teenage grand-daughter who might get her hands on it. That horrifies me, not to mention other family. My adult fantasy will morph into young adult. I’ll feel better about it. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t rampant you know what in it — see, I can’t even write the word online, unless it should associate itself with my blog.
I have Karen S Wiesner’s book First Draft in 30 Days, from the library, and I still wasn’t convinced. It isn’t really a first draft, she says, it is such a comprehensive outline, it stands in place of a first draft.
I picked over some of my own books. Stephen King doesn’t outline, has just outlined two of his published novels; Terry Brooks swears by outlining; Orson Scott Card has omitted the O word from the index in How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy but goes into great detail on the pros and cons of both outlining and not outlining in his Plot and Structure, no right or wrong way.
In Story Structure (the first of The Red Sneaker series which arrived in my mailbox this week), William Bernhard asks why would you believe anything a fiction writer says about not outlining. He says that even if they don’t call it outlining they still do it, even if it is only in their heads. Last night I read most of this little book, coming away convinced by his advice once and for all. The diagrams of acts, story arcs, turning point positions, etc, made me wake up I had no idea where in my story these things were officially taking place.
After all, I’m going to need an outline during the submission process. And there will be a submission process — no whacking it straight online as an e-book. I’ll wait for the knock-backs first.
Tomorrow, I will get stuck into outlining my 83000 words and beyond. Fortunately, Karen has told me the best way to go about doing just that with WIP in First Draft in 30 Days.
And then the end will be in a clear line of sight.