The artificiality of outlining

14 Feb

(I started this post elsewhere and totally lost it since it didn’t auto safe for me… of course… So I’ll start over again)

Last night I finished 2 chapters for Black Sheep Part 3, finishing up all the chapters I already had parts written for. After shutting down my computer and putting away my writing gear I looked at my outline, and found that if I was going to make this story work I had to change the way I worked it. I have 5 mayor events happening in this part of the story, event A, B, C, D and E. They are all dependent on each other and only work if spaces out right. While looking at the poster I realised that to make the transformation from event A to B to C work I needed to space them out differently. As it stands now, A is the first chapter, B is chapter 6 and C is chapter 10. But after finishing these chapters and two more in between I realised that to make some of the happenings plausible I needed to spread them out further, I could not have the events and the time span plausible and workable in the way it was planned right now.

Before writing I had spend some time deciding to put B or C on chapter 10, knowing that both were really important to the stuff around it. As it was standing I chose to put C at chapter 10, thinking I could possibly make it work. Which I now found out didn’t. Putting events on my outline is artificial, I know things that are going to happen but I sometimes can’t figure out exactly where.

This is why I love using large pieces of papers or white boards to plan my story, they enable me to see what is happening where, without intruding on the creative process of moving stuff around.

For NaNoWriMo 2011 I used white boards to plan everything out and something I thought might have been the end of the story turned into the halfway point of the story, quite a change in a 50K word story.

Artificiality of an outline is not a bad thing for me. This way I can work towards something while still keeping other parts of the story open. Artificiality gives goals, not walls.

What do you think about artificiality and outlines, do you think they give you more freedom or do you find them constricting?

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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in writing


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