November 30th

Nov. 30th, 2012 07:46 pm
sherrydramsey: (paper stack)
Well, that's another NaNoWriMo over with, another 50k+ words written--and another partial novel to add to the stack. I do believe that next year I am going to--gasp!--write an outline and just see if I can get to "The End."

I've done it a couple of times in the past (gotten to the end, not used an outline), and those were the most satisfying NaNoWriMo experiences for me. Going back to finish is really, really difficult. I am still resolved to finish some of the other incomplete drafts, but it's a goal that seems very elusive.

So, despite my past bad experiences with outlines, I think I might just try it again. Maybe with a looser, more flexible and fluid outline this time.

This is not to say that I'm unhappy with NaNoWriMo 2012--the story is quirky and funny and has a lot of potential. Definitely one I want to finish; it just has to get in line. :)

Anyway, now it's back to the rewrite to finish that up by my deadline. Oh, and a little thing called Christmas.
In my last post, I mentioned being a "discovery writer."  Now, it's not all that long since I came to the realization that there's a name for writers who write the way I do.  Previously, I thought I was just "a writer who doesn't write outlines."  "Discovery writer" sounds oh-so-much more interesting.

Although it still boils down mostly to the fact that I don't tend to write outlines.  Before anyone protests, let me be clear that I have tried working from an outline.  In one notable effort, I outlined the second and third books in a trilogy I was writing, in which I had to that point written only the first book.  The second and third books have never been written, even though I still like the characters and the story.

Why?  I mean, I have the whole outline written!  It should be easy! 

Except that, now that I've written the outline, and I know how the story goes--I have no further interest in writing it.

And that's why I don't write outlines.

Which is not to say that being a discovery writer is not without its perils.  Working without an outline is maybe a bit like being an acrobat without a net.  If I fall into trouble with the story, there's nothing to catch me and put me back on track.  And to tell the truth, it makes revision work--on a novel, at any rate--quite hellish.  There's the potential for a lot of inconsistencies, dropped storylines, characters who disappear and reappear randomly, and plot holes big enough to drive a semi through.

On the upside, it makes writing first drafts a heck of a lot of fun.

And to be clear, I do make a lot of notes on a story, both before I start it and while I'm writing it.  I write down everything I know about the story and then I ask myself questions about what I don't know, and jot down possible answers to those questions, along with any other corollary questions, ramifications of the possible answers, problems and drawbacks, character notes, etc. It's not anything I would call an outline, though, and very often I never go back to the notes once I've written them.

I have a great respect for story planners and outliners, and perhaps just a bit of envy, because I have to admit that it seems like it would be easier to work that way.  Discovery has its own joys, however, and as a storyteller, I appreciate the inherent value of a perilous journey.

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