Saturday, March 29, 2014

Is it Possible? Am Outliner?

I decided to try something new.

Not just diving into the shiny new idea that percolated up amid thought of endless winter and certain pervasive themes and imagery in folk tales.  (Yep, that's all I'm giving away for now!)

I decided to try outlining.

I've never been an outliner.  I never described myself as a complete pantser--I always knew where the story was going next.  I sketched out ideas in a big blue notebook.  I kept notes and wrote down thoughts and worked out a rough plot arc in scrawled handwriting.  But I never wrote out an outline--a full-fledged map of the plot, a "first this then this then the next thing" outline.

And I liked it that way.

After spending over a year in the revision stage of one manuscript, however, mainly hammering out plot arc issues, I decided to consider another tack.  Not that there was anything wrong with the process for that novel--if there was, it was the kind of happy accident that gives us chocolate chip cookies, because I'm pretty happy with its progress. Or, maybe, it was the structure of this new story in and of itself--alternating viewpoints within a fairly straightforward storyline (ok, gave away another leeetle bit).  Either way, I wanted to play with a method I'd never tried before.

Long story short (kinda like an outline), I have the whole thing outlined.  Except a squishy part at the two-thirds mark where I'm just not quite sure what catalyst causes the marbles to start rolling again.  In either case--it's more outlining than I've ever taken a crack at before and, lo and behold--a magical thing happens when I sit down to write.

I don't think through what I need to do today.  I don't agonize over "What next? Shoot! I thought I knew what went here, but it's all running together..."  Nope.  I look at my roadmap, skim over what came before, and write.

It's fun.  And I'm amazed by the leeway an outline still allows--the muse seeps in, whether you outline or pants it.  She can't be kept out.

More words are waiting for me.  And an outline that can't be ignored.

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