Friday, March 30, 2007

The Spanish Exposition-Outlines (An Interlude)

I'm still not sure if I'm going to have another go at talking about outlines, but Lyda brought up something in comments on her outlines post below that I want to put out front and respond to.

lydamorehouse said...
It might not matter what you call it, but when I first started writing novels I felt I HAD to outline like that and it pretty much scared the crap out of me.


This is important. If outlines don't work for you, or if you need to call them something else or construct them in a different way, say as clusters of words on a whiteboard, do that.

There are a 1,001 ways to write a novel, every one of them right. If something works for you, do it. If not, don't let anyone tell you that it should. Move on and find something that does work. Everything we say here is meant by way of suggesting things that may help, not as laying out the one true path to novel success.

Lyda does things in her process that would drive me over the edge and vice-versa and yet both methods produce novels that sell. The only thing that really matters processwise is that you write and that you finish at least some of what you write.

2 comments:

Sean M. Murphy said...

Agreed. With my first novel, I had all sorts of trigger tools for writing. I had diagrams of familial relations and timelines for the history of my world sketched out on 2x3 foot paper and tacked up around my writing space. Not outlines in any sense that we're talking about here, but functioning in a very similar way. That was what worked for me, though I also had written up a working outline similar to what we've discussed out front.

Kelly Swails said...

Oh, yeah. I think that's one of the most important lessons for a beginning writer to learn: do what works for you. When I worked on my trilogy I had an outline as wells as a "Harlan Universe Bible" that had a map, timeline, dates, character sketches, etc. that I refered to as needed. And let's not even mention the post-it notes filled with inspiration! I'm doing the same thing for the current project, and so far so good. I can see, however, how my system would drive a more organized person insane.