I have to be excited about my outline.
One of the lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo this year was I don’t have enough outline. What got me through was Mary Robinette Kowal’s, “No Prep NaNo” class. When I bogged down I went back to my class notes and followed her advice. The second action I took was to make a note of what bogged me down. More often than not it was the lack of outline, I was missing the “Ok-What happens next?” syndrome. Once I had this the writing was straight forward and oddly exciting.
Before I continue I want to point out something that I have learned over the last while, don’t argue with established bona fide experts. I paid money to take the class. I try not to argue or disagree with experts on writing. I do my homework by checking out the expert. And move forward taking their advice. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but at least I know that from experience. I find what works for me, but I don’t spend time re-inventing the wheel. But that’s me, it might not be you.
Back to the corollary…
I have discovered that it’s work to write an exciting outline. I am aware of the forms, the three-act structure, the seven point plot, the MACE quotient, etc. What I am learning is the details of outlining. How to get the parts of your outline to weave together? I know I want my main character to have a love interest. But what are the details of that romance and how does it weave through the core of the story? I want my character to fail at succeeding at their main goal. It’s part of any good story. How does that integrate with developing secondary character who is an integral part of the story? And how do all of these elements mesh into a cohesive whole that reinforce the underlying theme of the novel?
I suspect for experienced author’s, this is straight forward process. For someone learning to write, it’s like exercising a muscle you didn’t know you had. It hurts, and it hurts more the next day.
The basic advice still follows, get your butt in a chair and write or outline. But just doing repetitions without examining the exercises you are doing is wasted effort. You can do all the sit-ups you want. But if you do them wrong you end up with neck and back pain with NO abs.
Ok, dcd, what are exercises are you doing? Good ones?
I hope so. But I am following the concept from workouts, High-intensity interval training (HIIT). What in the Sam hell does that mean?
Workouts, exercising these days evolves around working specific muscles very hard and then resting them. The next day you work a different set of muscles, very hard. And you have rest days. You match this with a proper diet and you end up being fit.
Unlike the problems with getting the details into my outlines, I can schedule. I would say “Project Management” but I just felt eyes roll and glass over, and not in a good way. A simple schedule to work the different parts of my writing muscles with a focus on outlining. Cheese cake. (I’ll be right back, desert is calling)
- Monday – WWP Writing Group – Outline
- Tuesday – Solo at home writing
- Wednesday – Rest Day (Board Game Group)
- Thursday – Outline (Once a Month WWS Writing Group)
- Friday – Critiques for Writing Groups
- Saturday – Writing
- Sunday – Rest Day or Cardio…
Ok, smart guy, what are you going to consume to help this regime?
Core writing “foods”
- Writing Excuses Podcast, IMO, the best podcast out there.
- The Prolific Writer Podcast
- Monthly Writing Class
- Monthly Writing Prompt
- Weekly Writing Group Writing Session
- Audio Books in genre
Lastly and most importantly, tracking.
All sorts of studies show that if you track what you are doing, if you measure your work, you get better results.(Don’t take my word for it) And so I will build a spreadsheet or Trello Card or add something to a food tracker to measure what gets done. Most likely they will be “ToDo’s” in a calendar. Perhaps the website will contain micro updates…
As I re-read this now, other than all the typo’s, I see way too aggressive goals. But I know it’s OK to fail.
“Failure provides the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford
This is just my own meager input, for what it’s worth, but I rarely ever use an outline for my books or my short stories or even my blog posts. For me, adherence to predetermined goals stifles the creativity. Some of my favorite pieces have been the result of unfiltered rambling, allowing the story to wander as things develop. This is why I thrive during NaNoWriMo, because I let myself run with the slightest whim. Yes, this means I end up with a lot of unusable crap, but I also end up with a lot of nuggets that can be watered to fruition. Best of luck of finding the path that works for you…
Stop commenting on my banal blog posts and get back to being amazing! 🙂