For the longest time I’ve avoided outlining because it sucked the life out of my writing, or so I thought. I’ve plowed through several short stories, a novel, and several partial novels while keeping this mantra alive in my head. No outlines. No outlines. No outlines.
Today I outline.
I figure I had my head screwed on wrong about this. There’s another way to look at outlining, and that’s as if it is the first draft. I mostly enjoy writing the first draft, but when I get to the end it’s a mess, a hodge-podge of different story-lines that don’t pan out, tense changes, characters coming and going and changing names. It’s all too much to sort out with a second, third, fourth, or even fifth draft. My drafts are more rewrites than anything, and they never get sorted out. It’s time to try a new way. I don’t lose anything by trying.
So I’m sticking with my new story, the one for which I’ve written nearly 20,000 words. The idea is still good, at least the core idea is. I need to flesh out the characters and tape up a plot that makes sense but isn’t just the writing equivalent of car chases and explosions. Forget equivalent. I think I literally had too many car chases and explosions. My hope is that by thinking about the story and character ahead of time, I start to get an “arc” in both those categories, a thing sorely missing in my previous efforts. Where are the choices? Where is the change? Sounds like nonsense only until you write something without it. As my son would say–“it’s yuck”.
Maybe I’ve had a planner and plotter hiding inside me, waiting to be released. Time to find out.