Thursday, February 24, 2011

Outlining: Love to Hate it

So, I am trying something new on this novel and actually outlining it.  On my last novel I just came up with an idea, sat down, and started writing.  Oh, occasionally I would use a notepad and try and keep an idea in order, but more often than not I tried to create a nuanced, multi-layered story just "going with the flow".

The result was a good first try, which as we all know is not nearly good enough to be a "get on the bookshelf" try.  I like to think there were some good parts, some moments of writing competence, but it needs work.  It needs lots of work.  So for now, after four years of struggling, I have put it into a drawer. 

This new novel, which is also in the fantasy genre, is my first attempt at structure and official pre-meditated character development.  It is also the first time that I decided the rules of a three act structure should apply to me as well.  I used to scoff at the idea because I firmly believed that a good story was a good story and you need not concern yourself with the confines of traditional literature.

I suppose I am wrong on a level, because many writers I respect adhere to this as if it were gospel.  But how can we strive for something new in our form if we are adhering to a traditional structure?
 Or maybe being lazy is just that much easier and produces a work that much more sloppy.  I am undecided.

At any rate, I am happy to write and so I write.  I am excited about telling a new story.  I am more determined than ever to write something of value and something that will gain me at least a semblance of a readership. Being an author that can't get their work read is like being a general without a war. Like being a stage actor without an audience.  Like being a…well you get the point.

And so I write.  And before I write, I outline.  I am using a great program on the Mac called Writer's Dream Kit.  It forces me to create through lines in a more conscious way.  It forces me to develop Main, Impact, and other characters.  The program forces me to write about the back story and about the protagonist and antagonist interactions and to be aware of their definition of roles as I do it.

I knew that stories had bad guys and good guys and dramatic climax and layers of plot and of course characters and their relationships, but now I am forced to learn the ebb and flow of a story and to work within the scope of a plan that I lay beforehand.  It is different, it is a pain, but wow it is marvelous.  I can see how much easier the actual writing will be once I have completed this infernal outline. 

I thought I was close and then I scraped half of the outline and am shoring up what I deemed to be flaws in the early structure.  I would have had to scrap a third of a novel if I had started the actual writing first. So in summation, I hate outlining, but I hate starting a novel over even more; so for now, I will love to hate my outline and just suck it up and do the damn thing.

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