Thursday, January 23, 2014

Writing Experiments: Outlining

So today is the day where I talk about one of my favorite things. Writing Experiments! One of the more fun ones I’ve been doing is outlining. I started out being a complete pantser. I had a vague idea where the story was going and just rode it to wherever it was taking me. I knew I had to make a change when I had the chance to read something I’d written years before. I was pleasantly surprised with its quality. I felt like the characters were interesting and I was really excited to see where I’d been taking the plot. Hey, I didn’t really remember writing it in the first place! Well, I wasn’t taking that plot anywhere. A little after three quarters of the way through an ending spontaneously began. It was pretty epic but had nothing to do with the rest of the novel. I knew that my plot was where I was struggling at that point. So outlining!

I started small but went big in this department, culminating in Stone Prince my most recent Nano novel. I had the sucker so thoroughly outlined that I even knew what the scene changes looked like. Then it ended at 42K, way too early for any real time novel. When I started thinking of where I could add to the plot to flesh it out I realized that I had made it too tight to do much with. With my outline dictating where I went I didn’t develop side plots or alternative characters like I otherwise would in a first draft. Editing that is going to be a bear. Plus I found that I missed the chance to let something unusual or interesting happen in a scene. Now all the fun was in the outlining and very little in the writing.

Since I liked how basic outlining gave me a semi-usable draft I didn’t want to abandon it completely. That’s when I came across this post by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt, the author of several successful  e-serials. They write prompts instead of outlines. I started thinking about that. Could I flesh out the plot in a way that gave me stability and still leaves me space to deviate if needed? I just might!  Instead of writing out the entire scene I’ve been giving myself the information that would start it and some ideas of what needs to happen during it. I’ve only been doing this for my most recent writing (e.g. Chaos Rules edits) which as you can see on the sidebar hasn’t come very far. I’ll let you know how it turns out!


  1. Lately I've been using the nine point method and I've really liked it. It helps me plot out most of the main points while leaving a lot left for my characters to figure out on their own (since you know they like to do things their own way...)

    1. I've never heard of the nine-point method. I'll have to look it up.