Saturday, April 12, 2014

To Outline of Not To Outline

That is the question! Whether tis nobler to taketh thy pen and outline in scrupulous detail or to forsake such careful planning and say: 'stuff it this doesn't work for me, or whether it is better in the proverbial long run to plan...but then again, it is subjective! After all friends, Romans and Countrymen, it may be true that despite it all, a writer must to thine ownself be true!

Okay, enough already! I'll tell you about outlining. I wish it worked for me. I truly wish I could keep and develop a detailed outline from which to work up my novel. Confession: I've tried and I can't. It doesn't work for short stories or novels. I do have a basic idea in my head about where I'm beginning and ending. But that's it.

And as for characters, well--I get a 'sense' of them. After they become real to me I stick them on the page and they lead me to a story I find that sounds plausible. Experiment: take two characters, make them men. One's a thief with a criminal record and the other is a cop. They're both armed. Have them fall into a cellar and you'll have a story.

Yes, it's different with a book but not that different. I've tried (remember, this might very well work for you) character sheets. I've written in great detail about eye color, hair color and eating habits. The thing was, when I began to write I couldn't focus on those sheets.

My fingers were going, "over here stupid! We're moving on the keys. We're getting your page filled up. Are you with us or against us?"
They got my attention. "I'm with you! Wait a second."
"Are you watching?"
"Yeah, I'm watching!"

They had me just write, it was in the writing that the characters' personalities emerged. Hair color and height are purely secondary I find, certainly for the shaping of the story they are! Here is something to consider, Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle.

Ingredients for a superb story (novel): 

WW2, England
Nazi spy with secrets is shipwrecked,
Take one crippled RAF pilot,
One love-starved wife...what do you get?  ONE VERY SUSPENSEFUL BOOK!

Remember, every writer is different and whatever comes naturally to you is the right method for you.

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