Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making Progress, or Outlining: Part 2

This is a picture I took!! I am so excited that I actually took something that looks remotely decent. This pic will end up somewhere on my husband's company website (so please do not copy unless with my permission. Thanks).

First off, I didn't want to make this post about me, or any post for that matter, but I hope my trials and errors will be beneficial to other starving artist/blooming authors.

I wanted to key you in to my progress with outlining before starting to crank out the MS. There are many reasons this is working great for me (like I have said before, outlining may not be for you, but for someone like me who likes to go off on tangents and then get totally caught up with a different story thread and then start talking about something completely different like the photoshoot I did last Saturday that was amazing BTW and the edits are going awesome...

Oh, you didn't want to hear about that?
Yeah...see what I mean?

So, if you are like me, then outlining has many plus'. (plusses? Trust me, just because you are a writer doesn't mean you always know how to spell. So don't feel bad all you defilers of spellings).

  1. With outlining I get to 'speed' ahead to other parts of the book, sort of live each exciting moment quickly. Yes, usually I am pretty impatient to see the whole book realized that I may hurry too fast through certain scenes, wanting to get to the next part and then the next and so on. This way I can get excited about the scene I am in, not lose interest before jumping to the next and plan each before I forget what awesome ideas I had for later on. It alleviates temptation.
  2. Planning ahead makes it easy to go back and put in another story thread or idea (as I think of them), or plot point that affects the latter part of the story without ruining anything I may have already written out, or re-writing a whole section of the book. (Trust me, it's a big ginormous bummer of a deal if you decide you want to change something even semi-drastically after writing half the darn book, and then going back and trying to figure out how in the world you are going to put something in with the least amount of damage to said already written MS. Can you say major  headspasms?)
  3. I just like to make lists. =)
Another thing that helps after I have written my outline, is making a seperate list of things to watch out for or include in each chapter. For example, I have a character who doesn't realize what the world is like, she has been secluded her whole life, and in fact hasn't met single other human being other than her guardian for the almost 18 years she has been alive. (rotten, huh?) So, I want to make sure that I put in as many contrasting behaviors or ideas that I possible can to make this 'world' all the more real. I also want to be able to track the growth of each character in the book, especially my main character, among others.

One more great thing about this planning stage is that I am never left guessing while writing. I know exactly what each character thinks, how they act. I know what my world is about, every detail so that I don't have to think up stuff spur of the moment that may or may not fit in with the rest of the story. I can decide where something will be the most appropriate and get it in the right place as I am writing, not awkwardly patching it into the spot later when I think of it. For me right now, on this MS, I have also been able to push myself to the next level, make my villain become more incidious, come up with more ideas for him and the MC before typing anything, Up the anti in each scene.

If you have every taken notes on a movie this will help you with outlining/plotting. Or if you haven't, try it! I took the time the last several months to take notes during several movies, different kinds, and even a television series. In this I realized that the writers went back and forth between major drama and calmer moments. In this way the viewer doesn't get too over- or underwhelmed during the show. There's humor that breaks up the tension (in appropriate places...not say at the climatic points near the end), and several twists that occur where beginner writers may have been tempted (yea, I am talking about myself here) to just leave it be.

For example, in the movie, Ella Enchanted. In the begging I thought it was creative enough for Ella to be 'blessed' with a terrible gift that makes her do anything anyone asks her to do. That should be enough, right? Well, the writer thought it would be better to make Ella's situation even worse, and then even more terrible.

Ella's mother dies, leaving her without anyone (other than the house fairy that no one listens to) to be her champion, or support system. (Her dad obviously didn't know what was going on). And to add insult to injury, her dad remarries giving Ella a step mother and step sisters who want to abuse Ella after they find out what they can do to her. TOTALLY unfair for Ella, but totally worth reading/watching. You want to know how Ella is going to get by unscathed. And it also opens up several available plot tracks or ideas that one could take. Any number of bad things can now happen.

So, this is what we need to do: Make a scene wonderfully horrible for the MC, make the reader feel sorry for them and then up the stakes. (like how Ella meets the prince, but everyone is yelling at the screen because they think she is stupid for not liking him and then when she finally does like him she can't have him or even be near him because she is commanded to kill dramafest!)

AND do it in an outline so you can keep adding to it until you feel that each and every scene is pumped to the appropraite limit of twistiness.

Dont you love twisty things? I do!


So, go make some twists of your own! And add lots of sprinkles for me, -k-?

I mean it, GO!! JK, you can hang out hear for a while, slobber over this yummy photo and then go back and stare dazedly at the wonderfully wonderful photo I took at the top, daydreaming about how wonderfully talented I am. Okay, that's a bit much, but you can druel. I'll let you.

1 comment:

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Those donuts look amazing. Just saying.

Also, I've gravitated to outlining the longer I write. Mainly because it just makes the job easier. I don't think it stifles creativity at all--you can always change things. Plus, there's a lot of creativity involved in the outlining. So, I'd say all around, you can't lose.

Great reasons for outlining, Kathryn!