Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Chalk Outlines

All right kids. Today I'm going to talk to you about the importance of outlining. Not because I'm great at it and I can extoll its virtues. Oh no. Think of me more as a cautionary tale.

You see, if you outline your story, you can have an idea of the pace and the flow of the thing. You know what should be happening when. You don't find yourself, barely over halfway through your word count, already at the climax of the story.

That's where I'm at. I have about 4,000 words to go, and the story's just about over.

Don't be like me, kids.

Every time, I tell myself I'm going to outline the plot. And every time, I put it off until it's too late and then I just pants the whole thing. (Pantsing, for those just joining us, is writing by the seat of your pants.) And every time, I say, "Next time, I'll outline." I'm a liar, just so you know. I don't think I've written an outline yet. No, that's a lie too. I wrote an outline, once.

November 2015. I tried to map out the arc of the protagonist. Now, there are some points in a plot called "All is Lost" and "The Dark Night of the Soul" where the protagonist is at his lowest, before it picks up for the finale. Those are supposed to be, oh, around 75% of the way through. In my 50,000 word… void, they land at… about 44%. That's a little early. And then then the other 56% was just… a mess. Rewriting some pieces, expanding others to ridiculous extremes… It didn't work out so well.

I'm not great with pacing. I don't know if that's an issue with my outline process or just… me. Both, probably. I need a good, solid outline, that includes things like subplots and supporting character arcs. I know other people manage to do it. I don't know why I keep going with the "throw words at the page and hope for the best" approach. It's not an effective approach. There's no reason to still be using the "make it up as I go" method that I've been using since I was seven. I think I should have matured beyond that by now.

I've already said that when Camp NaNo is over at the end of April, I want to try writing in different genres. So what I might do, since I won't have any word count goals, is outline the damn things, and then write them, knowing exactly what I'm getting into. Then they'll end up however long they end up, and I won't have to add a bunch of crap to get the word count up.

Maybe if I can figure out how to add a poll, I'll put it to a vote which genre I should tackle next. Audience participation and all that. Although I imagine I'll get maybe two votes. I'm not exactly in the big leagues here.

So that's what's happening. I don't know what I'm doing. So… like normal.

I'll see you Friday.

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