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Current word count is 25,407, which isn't going to win me any NaNos (especially since that's the count since December), but represents me working a little bit every day. Or most days. I'm not in any hurry. This week, for example, I was busy with a lot of other stuff, so I pretty much worked on the same scene the entire week. It wasn't just about being busy, though. I reached another "stuck state" with the character whose basic motives I so excitedly discovered a few weeks back. I know her motives, but her motives don't tell me how her story should go, and it's in this holding pattern that her motivations sort of beg for, but that won't move the story forward. It was up to the other character in the scene to up the ante.

At any rate, I had this scene all worked out in my head, and the job was just to write it. But I realized that I couldn't get the other character in the scene to do what I needed her to do. Not the way I have her written up to now. I kind of hoped a way to work the scene out would occur to me as often happens, but it didn't. And so when I got to the end of the scene, and that pivotal moment I couldn't work out, I realized the story had to take a complete left turn from where I had planned it to go because it couldn't do anything else, not the way I'd written it.

How does anyone ever write from an outline, ever? Stories have to write themselves.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 13th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
In that case, writing is an adventure, but I like maps and routes when I'm driving.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 13th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
I suppose it would be different if the point of the trip was the drive itself and not the destination. But I travel to arrive at point B and then do my exploring, rather than travel just to travel.

Writing is as much about getting there as arriving.
Mar. 13th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
How does anyone ever write from an outline, ever?

Characters so predictable and cookie-cutter, they don't mess up your outline. Isn't that a big part of the definition of a pot-boiler?

I'm great at outlines for essays, but I find them useless for original fiction.

As S'kat says you can have a general guide of where the plot is heading. But it's difficult to say where interesting characters have to lead to story.
Mar. 15th, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
Yeah, I suppose if you're just writing a cookie-cutter story, keeping to an outline is easy. And essential. But if you're writing from the soul, where the whole point is to let the characters take over and lead the way, an outline is impossible.
Mar. 17th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
Terry Brooks writes from an outline. He only has to do two drafts. He swears by them. You can either do the work up front or you can do it later. With an outline, the work is done up front. With pantsing, most of the work is done in the rewrites. I've done both. Outlining makes things go much faster. When you are working on a deadline, it's the way to go.

I was a pantser. I'm writing the third book from an outline. It is making things go so much smoother. The key is to spend a lot of time dreaming before you even start. You have to know your universe, know your characters (especially their goals and motivations) and know the conflict. Then writing an outline is like writing the book. It is during the outline where all those surprises find you and the book reveals itself. You just don't have to spend time writing all those words down to get the ideas down. When translating the outline to more words, surprises still creep up.
Mar. 17th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
I spent a year dreaming up this novel, and still have to do it by the seat of my pants. I did all the right-brained brain storming, letting the ideas come to me so I could put them in outline form, but now that I am actually putting words to paper, I am discovering in vivo whether those ideas can actually work or not.

That's how I've written for twenty years. That's how I have to write, I guess.
Mar. 17th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
When I was working on my fan fiction WIP, on the other hand, I did a lot more outlining. But only for the current episode I was working on, and one or two episodes ahead. Never for the entire virtual "season". I had an idea where I wanted the season to go, but episodes further down the line, I did not want to know what they would entail or what they would be about until they were closer.

I did have episode deadlines (for myself) on this WIP, so outlining did keep me focused and I didn't begrudge it because the outlines were very broad strokes that had wiggle room if something I'd planned didn't work.

With this original story, as with my other original stories, though, I have to let the characters and my subconscious tell me the story as I go along, because I just can't come up with as good ideas up front as I can when I'm actually writing.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )