My first manuscript wasn’t outlined when I started. Course that probably is the main reason why I spent months and months writing chapters that eventually were deleted, scenes that got axed for being either impudent or irrelevant, and changing my premise about a year and a half into writing the novel because my main character had no purpose.
I decided with my next manuscript I was going to outline it completely. Before I began my research I was able to outline the first four chapters and because the outlines were done they are all nearly written…at least the first drafts anyways. After chapter five though, I had to quit so I could begin the research about life traveling through the Alaskan/Canadian wilderness. Throughout my research I’ve been able to start outlining again.
Fun, fun, fun, let me tell ya!
Two days ago I actually outlined myself into a brick wall. Super. Usually writer’s write themselves into a wall not outline themselves. I have since adjusted the storyline and worked myself around the problem, but I still can’t believe I did that.
Some writers outline with just a few or even just one sentence per chapter. I am not one of those writers. My chapter outlines are two to three paragraphs long and after they are written I do a bullet list of the different scenes/conversations that will transpire in that chapter. I find that doing my outlines in this manner helps me not only watch my character arch for each character but allows me to see holes in the storyline. Also I can fix chapters that are lacking a certain level of drama to keep the reader from getting bored and wanting to throw the book across the room. While my process for outlining is probably taking more time then it should to outline, at least I have a better idea about what I want from a chapter before I start and hopefully it will keep me from wasting time again on scenes that will be axed or whole chapters that would be deleted.
I am not a fan of outlining, but I know now that believing it was better to ‘write by the seat of my pants’ was foolish of me. Had I outlined my first manuscript perhaps it wouldn’t have taken me two and a half years to complete. Ah, the lessons we learn.