Never say never

1 Aug

TWSH-coverA couple of weeks ago, I said I never used outlines in writing my books.

Another author and I were talking about our methods, and we both agreed that outlines just don’t work for us.

This is not a new phenomenon for me. In school, when the assignment was to write an outline, then write an essay based on that, I would always write the essay, then put together the outline from what I had already written.

I just can’t chart out what I’m going to write. I have to let it happen.

So I said.

Well, I’ve been having trouble keeping everything moving properly in Book 5, The White-Silver House. I have a lot of loose ends to tie up, a lot of story to tell, characters to develop …. In short, I was feeling like I was in danger of losing track of things.

So I made a list of all the settings in which things take place. I shared many of those with you earlier this week.

I made a list of all the plot points – all the things that have to happen to bring the book to a good, satisfying conclusion. That includes wrapping up some of the sub-plots.

And I listed out the characters and described what happens to each of them in the course of the book.

I’ve let that set a while, so I’m about ready to come back to it in order to make sure I’ve got everything I need written down. And after that I’ll write each of them on an index card, and fill in more detail on each plot point. Then I’ll sort of mix and match until they fit. (That also gives me liberty to move things around if something doesn’t seem to fit as I’m working through the rewrite.)

And it dawned on me: Isn’t that an outline?

The settings are the main points, and the plot points are the secondary points, with the details being sub-points. (The character sketches sit outside that, but you get the point.)

Well, I guess I do use outlines after all.

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