Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Don't Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I'm an outliner. I tend to know how the whole book is going to go by the time I start writing. I write an outline, fill in the details and then follow it.

Except...when I don't.

Yesterday I got almost nothing done because I didn't like the way a scene I'd written the day before tasted. It felt like there was something structurally wrong. So, before going to sleep I spent some time mentally going over the scene and looking for different ways to deal with it.

I ended up completely removing a major character from the scene and that has a series of cascading ramifications for the next two chapters. The new version is better. So, I changed the outline for those chapters and everything else that hinges off them. Then I went in and reset the foreshadowing to give the new stuff a better lead in.

If something isn't working, don't be afraid to change your mind and do something else that does. An outline is just a tool. So is any method used to envision the story in advance. Don't get too tied to your tools.


Anonymous said...

Great advice, as always, Kelly.

An outline is just a tool.

Folksinger Ani DiFranco does this one song that ends thusly:

'cause every tool is a weapon -
if you hold it right

And that's what I thought of when I read this post. If I sort-of "wake up" and realize that I'm holding an outline over a manuscript like a bludgeon, it's time to switch up positions. :)

Kelly McCullough said...

That's awesome, Jen. Mad props for a perfectly deployed quote.