Saturday, May 18, 2013

Detours From the Outline

Scott D. Parker

Today’s entry is a short one and not very earth-shattering. It is dedicated to all you pantsers out there who think that an outline kills your creativity.

As I’ve been documenting for the past couple of weeks, I’m in the process of writing a new tale. This comes after a lengthy time of not writing, naturally resulting in a bit of relearning what I used to know. After crafting an outline structure based on Lester Dent’s master fiction plot, I had a pretty straightforward time filling it out. Next, the only thing left to do with a completed outline was write the story.

I’ll say outright that I’m not yet done with the story and that, in itself, is a thing I wish I could fix. You see, I’d like to write faster, more efficiently, and with better word choices. I chalk that up to muscle soreness. Like an athlete who took a summer off and, upon starting a training regimen, has all his muscles screaming at him, my writing chops are rusty. That’s to be expected and I don’t give myself too much, if any, grief on that account because, after all, I’ve written over 8,000 words on this story, more than I’ve written on a single thing in a long time. I’m happy with my progress.

And I’m also satisfied with all the little detours my imagination is taking off the road map of my outline. The outline itself is tight and I didn’t have the space to flesh out every scene. On the one hand, that slows me down because I have to think up the details as I go along. On the other, I can’t help but think if I fleshed out the outline, I’d streamline the writing more. 

But I’ve again realized that which I knew when I was fictioneering more regularly: the fleshing out is supposed to come during the writing. It’s when the imagination is working and connections are being made that makes writing one of the more enjoyable creative activities you can do. 

More importantly, however: I’m finding myself being pulled to the keyboard. Unlike other months when I was more than content to read, I am wanting to write.

Chalk that up in the win column.

For you outliners out there, do you find you find the threads come together during the outline time or the writing time?

1 comment:

Dana King said...

I'm a hard core outliner, but I like to write slowly because things will come to me as I write, and I need time to let them come. I write best when I know what has to happen during the day's business, but as I decide how to tell it, things will come to mind, or this chapter's telling will best be served by a minor change elsewhere. My first drafts are very close to the outline, with some alterations. The second draft consists entirely of making all those little decisions consistent with each other, cutting what became redundant or superfluous, and making a patchwork of plotting and on the spot decisions look as seamless as possible.

Then I start fixing the writing.