Monday, March 10, 2008


I am launching a foray into outlining.

I've never outlined. I've written numerous short stories and two novels without outlining. I've always been a shoot-from-the-hip writer, one who, in the past, just let the story take me where it wanted to go, with only a vague idea of where the story began and where it ended.

But I'm about to tackle a new novel, and after hugely overwriting one of my previous novels, I want to get this one right the first time, with very little revision necessary. My previous overwritten novel requires so much editing I've decided the only option is to simply start over and completely rewrite it--which I will someday.

As I said, I've never outlined and am not entirely sure how to approach it. Every author I talk to about it seems to have a different approach. So, I guess the solution for me is to write a few short stories trying out different methods of outlining and find out which one works.

I have yet to find a book on writing novels that isn't pretty much about 'how to write,' when what I'm looking for is specifics of how writing novels is different from writing short stories, and how I can organize my material, how I can keep track of story threads, how to juggle multiple storylines, characters, conflicts, resolutions and still come out the end of it with a complete and satisfying story.

Any recommendations would be most greatly appreciated.


Caroline said...

I like using a loose outline that I add to as the story progresses. I make notes for start, middle and end; and work out how they fit together. I also write little character profiles, which I find helps me sort out the relationships between them.

I think outlines are necessary, but I wouldn't want to plot everything to the last detail. Mind you, I've yet to write anything that didn't need editing. If you work that one out, let me know :)

Suzanne Vincent said...

Thanks, Caroline.

I've yet to write anything that doesn't need editing either, but as I develop as a writer my writing tends to need less and less.

I figure by the laws of physics I should get very, very close, but never perfectly there. ;-)

Suzanne Vincent said...
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