Friday, 4 March 2011

Outline time again!

Flipside has throw up half a dozen questions that I don't know the answer to, meaning I'm going to have to figure out what is actually going on.

Outlining is a new venture for me - the first time I did it was for Ironhaven and was a steep learning curve. First thing I discovered was that I could actually hammer out an outline. Second was that the Perfect Outline is pretty much a myth. Thirdly I found that writing an outline did not kill my desire to write the story, probably because of how I wrote the outline down.

That was simply a breakdown of scenes and plot points. During writing those equated to everything from a paragraph to entire chapters. Some ended up dumped (and lo! outlines *can* be changed!) while others were adapted as the story evolved.

This is my advice - use the outline to work out your rough plot but let the story guide you. Your characters might not do that thng you thought sounded so awesome, or you might realise that Plot B is going to make things too complicated (especially if you're writing to a prescribed word count). Make those changes - do a degree an outline should adapt to your story, rather than the other way around.

But don't lose the plot! Whatever changes you make, don't lose sight of where you want the story to go. Your outline is a map, but you're allowed to make detours... as long as you make your destination.


  1. Well said, especially about flexibility. My number 1 rule with outlining is this: If the characters and outline disagree, the characters win. ALWAYS. Hasn't done me wrong yet.

  2. Great article :)