Now It’s Dark

It’s dark, and I promised E I would leave here before dark. I lost track of time. The outlining is a hodgepodge of randomness. It’ll come together, though. It’s somehow easier when on deadline. Why is that so? I need my own pressure-cooker, my own hand holding down the lid.

Gotta go. Walking home, I might avoid the park.

4 responses to “Now It’s Dark”

  1. hi Novaren – I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that writing a blog has unblocked me a little for creative writing. I’m inspired by other writers like yourself and bloglily, who are just getting on with it. What I’m good at is forging ahead with a story, but I’m really bad at outlining where I’m going. Then I get halfway, or a quarter of the way, into a story and fizzle out because I have no plan. Do you have any tips you could share? Or is it best to work it through myself? Are there WAYS to plan? Do you stick to your outline, or does it change?
    A thousand questions – please don’t feel obliged to answer them all or reveal anything you’d rather not. I’d be so grateful for any pointers that help me become a better planner!
    Good luck with your outlines …
    With thanks, Charlotte

  2. Wonderful questions Charlotte! How to keep going…

    I’d love to hear about that, and also, that the walk skirting the park was fine!

  3. Hi, Charlotte! Thanks for the comment. It’s always interesting to hear how people handle outlining and not outlining –- I’m curious to know as well. I recently went to a reading and the author said that she never, ever outlines — it would kill the creative process. I understand what she meant because when I am writing my own fiction (i.e., not my freelance work) the characters start to come alive and turn the story different ways and it’s hard to plan for that.

    However, for me, for the literary fiction novel I wrote, I did do an outline. “Outline” sounds so formal — I wrote my way through the course of the story in summary style, dividing it into chapters. Sometimes whole scenes would emerge, sometimes bits and pieces of dialogue, sometimes just a line noting to myself a scene I didn’t want to forget. Then I reorganized to make sure the continuity was straight and that the pacing was okay. The final “outline” was about 50 pages. I really thought of it as bits and pieces and thoughts for the novel. When I sat down to write the thing, it really changed significantly. I think the process of defining the plot for myself was only a way to delve deep into the story, to really know my people and the place I was writing about. When I wrote the real chapters, I let whatever changes come, and I often didn’t even look at the outline. Of course, this book needed revision and it’s still not published, so I can’t say if that haphazard outlining process was a successful strategy.

    When it comes to my freelance writing, specifically the young adult novels I’ve worked on, I am obligated to turn a formal outline in to the editors before I can start the first draft. (That’s what I’m working on now.) But I actually found the outlines in those cases extremely helpful. I make them very detailed, summarizing every scene I want (and sometimes bits of dialogue and parts of scenes show up). Because the writing of the YA novels is so fast-paced — I get about 5-6 weeks to write the full first draft (45,000 words) — there’s no time to meander around like I do with my “real” writing. The past two times I’ve written them, I followed the outlines very closely, especially the last book. Pretty much everything in the first draft was in the original outline, and I wrote that first draft with the outline at my side, crossing off scenes as I went. I plan to do the same for this book. So the story is really coming alive for me now, as I plan it out. That way, the editors will have a real sense of what to expect so we can get any large story notes out of the way now before I start the manuscript. My outlines for the YA books have been about 25 pages long (single-spaced, eeek!).

    But again, those are assignments. I can’t seem to be so organized with my own writing. When I do an outline for that, I expect the story to change and grow after it’s down on paper. It’s just the very first step for me, gets me more clear-eyed about the story. Then I start writing and, man, that takes forever. I could spend a week on one paragraph, sculpting out the lines, rereading it over and over again in my head!

    All that said, what helps for me when I’m in a story and it fizzles out is to skip to the end. I get the beginning worked out and then the end and I return to the middle to make sure it meets. Of course when you go back and work on the middle the end can then become something else entirely, but that’s the process, I guess! Have you tried writing the start and then the end of your story? The pieces that come in between might get much clearer that way.

    And Bloglily, I made it home fine — and felt silly for even mentioning it. The streets were lit and filled with people and there was drumming and dancing in the park! It was a very pleasant walk home, in fact.

    If anyone else reading has any outlining advice, I’d love to hear it, too.

  4. Thanks for that wonderfully indepth response. I’ll take a while to process it, but in the meantime, I appreciate the time you took to answer my questions. Best, Charlotte

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