Sunday, February 12, 2012

And here we go again...

It's that time again. With Boyfriend out with betas, I need to dive into a new project. So this week I'm starting my new book. And this time, I'm going to seriously outline. I've never done more than scribble a few notes for myself before I start, and I'm beginning to think that's why I end up writing 3, 4 or 6 full drafts before I get it right.

I'd like to eliminate at least one or two drafts, so I'm going to try doing the whole outlining thing. The last time I tried it, I failed because knowing what was going to happen next made writing the book boring for me. I like being surprised by my characters and letting them go off and do the things they want to do. Outlining might stifle that. But then again, it might make it easier to get from point a to point b.

This new book I'm planning is interesting in that the first half of the book is from one character's POV, while the second is from another. At this stage, I have the first half of the book pretty well down in my head, but the second half is a little more vague. I'm hoping it will clarify when I start outlining.

Anyway. Wish me luck. As of tonight I am officially working on the new book, tentatively called Sour Plum. The aim is to finish a reasonable, critiquable (is that a word) first draft by my birthday in May. It would be sooner, but with two huge film festivals to host between now and then, I don't want to be unrealistic.

How do you outline? Or do you just go with it?


  1. For me the big thing about outlining is writing down the major plot points and how they fall in the story. My outlines rarely contain more detail than that because I do like to see how characters respond as I actually start writing.

    It sounds like an interesting new plan, I'm excited to see the results ^_^

  2. Good luck! I never outline. When I do, I spend weeks carefully plotting and then end up throwing it all out of the window by about 15,000 words because my characters decide they want to do something else. I just let them do their thing these days!

  3. One day I'll figure out what works best for me... I've always been a complete pantser and usually start writing somewhere near the middle of the book, then work my way toward both the ending and the beginning at the same time. It's worked for me, but I think it's time to try something else to see if it might make me more efficient.

  4. I'm an obsessive list and outline person, in everyday life as well as writing! LOL

    I always outline a new book with Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method. A google search brings that right up. It's VERY detailed, to the point of freaking some people out. But that's okay, you can customize it and cut out some of the steps.

    If the Snowflake Method still doesn't work, there's another technique I learned from doing another internet search. Basically, you break down your plot into the following:

    The inciting incident (the Big Problem): Get that going within the first few chapters of the book.

    Plot Point 1 (first obstacle): Usually caused by a situation out of the MC's control

    Plot Point 2 (second obstacle): Usually caused as a result of the MC trying to fix things

    Plot Point 3 (third obstacle; situation is as bad as it can get): precursor to the climax

    Climax A (lighting the fuse)

    Climax B (watching it burn)

    Climax C (BOOM!)

    Denoument: what happens next?

    Resolution: tying up loose ends.

    I use a combination of both methods when I outline a book. And then I make sure I have enough to fill in each of those steps. I'm constantly changing my outline though, because like Angeline says, the characters always end up going in different directions than you've planned. But I think it's sooo much easier knowing where the book is going, and when you do make changes they're usually pretty minor and it's easier to keep track of them when you have an outline.

    1. Wow! That's a lot more detailed than I would go. I just wrote 3 pages of paragraphs outlining what I think each chapter will be... I think that's enough for me to see the shape of the book and keep me on track.

  5. LOL I am OBSESSIVE about outlines! I feel totally lost without them.

    1. Given it's my first time doing one, I think I'll start small... They kind of terrify me because the one time I did outline (and it was only a page of notes) I was so bored with writing the book because I knew what was happening next.

      Plus, I don't write beginning to end. Ever. I like to start in the middle somewhere, with a big moment.

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  6. I agree that you can only outline so much. Sooner or later your characters decide their own direction. Actually, I find outlines much more helpful when writing screenplays than books.

    Good luck!