What I'm Up To

Working From an Outline — Or Not the Way I Do It

So today I spent a lot of time thinking and scribbling on my whiteboard, trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with the current plot points I’m writing. I’m 46,000 words into the manuscript and I’ve decided to change my ending. I know the ending, but I didn’t know what to do with the other ‘ending.’ I’m currently at that point in the MS where I was starting to set up the ending, and I don’t want to lose all the content I wrote, so I was trying to figure out how to incorporate it.

I was trying to write it last night and failing, so I finally decided to get some sleep. Laying in bed, one idea came to me and I started working out what research I needed to do today to finalize that. I spent some time on google, looking up ancient mythological humanoid creatures and came upon some… rather shocking ideas. For example, meet the Abarimon:

Their feet are backwards but supposedly that doesn’t stop them from running very fast. Okie doke.

I found what I needed in my research though, and the idea started taking shape. And that’s where my white board comes in. I think something over and when I think I finally have enough of a base to start working out the details for a chapter I might be stuck on or a backstory I don’t have yet, I’ll start writing things down on my white board. It’s hanging on the wall at the top of our stairs, next to our bedroom door and within sight of my recliner, so I can just turn and read it. It’s one of the best purchases I’ve made, because instead of sitting and typing, I stand and I have to physically write on it. The act of ┬ámovement – standing and pacing – is extremely helpful to my creative process. Also, after I write something on my white board, to try it out, I may decide I hate it and all I have to do is swipe the eraser across the surface and voila, fresh start.

I worked out a backstory and, in the process, also worked out where I actually want my current story to go with these characters. Here’s a shot I just took of my glorious white board, full of random and abstract details that won’t make sense to anyone but me and probably will be illegible as well. I never claimed to have great handwriting.

So what’s that have to do with the topic? Well, as you can see, I don’t work from an outline. Rather, I wing it and never know where I’m going to end up. Unfortunately, that means during my rewrite process, I tend to change a lot of things.

I’m considering actually writing out an outline for my next book, working out every major plot point in advance, so when I get there, I won’t have to change things. However, that seems a bit on the boring side. I’m really excited to see exactly how each of my characters play out in the current plot I’m tailoring. It’s going to be such a neat surprise, I’m sure! Yes, I’d love to be able to be more efficient in my writing process, but I also really want to enjoy the process of writing – and that means enjoying the story I’m telling. And nothing makes it more enjoyable than to write something, re-read it and go – wow! I had no idea it was going to go there.

So other writers who read my humble blog, do you outline or no?

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