Vision: A Resource for Writers
here was a time when
I'd snarl at that word. Unlike most
of the writers I knew, I never had a problem finishing a manuscript.
I didn't need to outline. I
could -- and often did -- sit down and wrote a novel in a month or two, working
on it straight through and writing every day.
I lived with those people and their story, and the story grew from
day-to-day much as the plot to real life does.
I still write my
shorter material that way, and sometimes even a novel. It's fun and exciting --
but it's not for people who have trouble making it through the middle of a
novel. It's flying without a net.
However, in the last
couple years I've started doing increasingly more elaborate outlines for most of
my novels. I started the first
outline on a whim. I was working on
one novel, and as will often happen with writers, another story tried to take
over my brain. So I jotted down
notes to it, started arranging them, and by the time I had finished the first
novel, I had the outline to another. And
I wrote it. It moved easily, and
finished in less time than it usually took me to write a novel.
It was fun.
But I don't need
outlines, I still told myself. I'm
not tied to such conventional forms of preparation.
I can write without a net! No strings!
But then, during last
year's NaNoWriMo I used a very elaborate outline to write 110,000 words in 11
days. That shocked even me. But I
loved being able to fly through the novel without ever pausing or worrying about
what comes next. I was, I admitted,
hooked. I could work out all the
plot problems ahead of time, I could make more elaborate plots for the first
draft, and I could write without pause, which was what I really loved.
So, yes... I've become
a convert to outlines. I like
outlines of all sorts: Loose ones with just a line per chapter, elaborate ones
like my Phase System (see article in this issue), note cards laid out in
patterns, and styles I haven't even tried yet.
I learned something
important... you never know what's going to help you make the next big step in
your writing if you aren't willing to experiment. The novels I write with
outlines generally have more depth and a more coherent plot line in the first
draft than the ones I write without an outline. That means less work in
Seems like a plan to
So experiment with the
different methods of writing offered in Vision.
You never know what you're missing until you try it.