After reading several blog posts on the power of outlines and how important they are to good fiction, I decided to use one some months back on my current project.
I sat down and mapped out the story, using a traditional outline like I would have done with a term paper in college. All neat and organized with key points and characters laid out. I even did summaries for each of the characters so that I could come to grips with their personalities and motivations.
I’m starting to think I broke the outlining process. Or that I did it “wrong”. Wrong for me, anyway.
Maybe I am letting myself be too bound by its rigidity. Not letting the creativity and freedom flow and take me where they will.
- I have these steps to take.
- This path to walk
- In this way
Maybe I am being too strict with outlining. Maybe it was only meant as a framework to get me thinking about the end before I get there. Maybe my analytical efficiency is driving me down a path I predetermined to see the “job” done. A path I am not sure is the best path, or even the road these characters need to travel. After all, how much creativity can you cram into a weekend? How much more do you learn about your characters as you spend hours writing them?
I am not saying writing is all unicorns and rainbows. Some mystic process where creative things just happen. For me, it’s 5% inspiration and 95% butt to chair. And problem solving. Now that X has happened, how do we get to Y in a way that doesn’t feel cheesy, forced or stupid. (I hate characters that do dumb things, especially when they should know better).
Or maybe what works for one writer, especially a full time, experienced author, is not what works for another.
I am not giving up on outlines, not yet, but I am thinking about putting this one in a drawer and seeing where the story goes on its own.