Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Outlining and My "Writing Process"

Without the playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable." — Carl Jung

First off... BSP:

My tour stop today is: The Long and the Short of It Romance Reviews -- I'm in the author spotlight. And I'm giving away a free download of any of my stories, including but not limited to, "One Love For Liv". Come on by!

My daily contest is here.


Yesterday, I mentioned that I would have to "outline" my story about Camilla. Brandy expressed surprise that I don't typically outline and Dru asked me if it was the first time I've outlined a story.

Well, yes and no.

When I write a novel-length work (I qualify this, because I behave in a completely different manner for stories that are shorter) I consider the first draft an outline of a sort. Typically, I'll explore the characters before I start to write. I have several character "interviews" that I'll ask them (yes, really... you don't think the characters are their own people? Trust me, they are!) and see what happens. If I get stuck on something (one question was about any traumatic events in childhood... and I knew something had happened to Camilla, but I wasn't certain what it was) I'll write a scene about that and see what shows up on the paper (turns out as a pre-teen, Camilla witnessed three teenaged boys beating a cat, rescues it and it feeds the "nurturer" in her as well as causes her to choose the profession she's in).

After I feel I know my characters well enough to make them behave... well... in character, I'll brainstorm possible scenes. Sometimes I use writing prompts. Sometimes I use "dares" from the NaNo forum. Sometimes I use other writing books that ask things like "will their be a chance that your H/H will do X, Y and Z?" and consider that.

Once I've got at least 20 or so scenes, I sit down and write. And there begins all the things that throw wrenches into the system. No, wait... I didn't expect THAT to happen! No, wait... you don't have your first kiss there -or- conversely, what do you MEAN you don't want to kiss yet? You have to or else this next scene won't work.

I tried outlining once, during my first "real" writing class at WVU. One of the lessons tells you to make an outline. I struggled and sweated through an outline for "Playing House" and thought it was perfect. And then I sat down to write and my characters said, "No way, Jose."

The difference between outlining Camilla's story NOW as opposed to when I started was this: I'm essentially done with the work, and it probably won't change all that much. I'm just having some problems with timelines and need to get it all written down in front of me to see just how long I need to keep Jed bedridden to work in the story. I have the last 15,000 words (or so) to write, but they're already loosely in my brain... which means "outlining" may not be the right word for me to have used yesterday.

And, wow... that was long-winded!

To all you writers out there... what about YOU? Plotter? Pantser? Somewhere in between (like me?).


Jen had nice words to say about "One Love For Liv" on her blog yesterday. Go see!


You Are Black Pepper

You may be considered ordinary by some, but you're far from boring.

You elevate the mood of any discussion, and people miss you when you're not around.

You are secretly very dominant and powerful. Most can only take you in small doses.

Dang... I wanted to be basil like Charity...


Allie Boniface said...

Oh God, I have to plot everything. Seriously. That's not to say that sometimes the characters don't end up doing their own thing anyway, as I write, but I absolutely have to know where I'm going with a story: the major scenes, the black moment, the wrap-up, etc.

Dru said...

Thanks for sharing your work process, especially on Camilla. I'm sure you'll find the solutions to your story.

You Are Oregano

You have are charming, funny, witty, and smart.
You love to party - and people love to party with you.
You are always friendly and warm. You are able to help people get along.

I do not like to party, but everything else is close.

Sarita Leone said...

I enjoy "seeing" how other authors work.

Me? I'm mostly a fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal.

anno said...

I enjoyed the insight into your process as well. Traditional outlines don't work for me, either, but I often find myself "working ahead," jotting down notes and phrases I want to use along the way. Kind of like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for myself to follow.

For the record, I am basil.

Brandy said...

Thank you for the in-depth explanation. I am always interested in how different authors work and put their talents to use.
As for the quiz: You are Basil
You are quite popular and loved by most people.
You have a mild temperament, but your style is definitely distinctive.
You are sweet, attractive, and you often smell good.

Ummmm, I am not popular or loved by most people. But, I'll accapet the rest.

Have a fabulous wednesday!

Mel said...

I plot out the turning points and I think that's about it. While I'm writing if I think something "big" has happened I write it down and stick it to a cork board that way I can look at the structure of my book when I'm done. Other than that I'm pulling rabbits out of a hat just to get to THE END.

Tori Lennox said...

I'm horrible at plotting. That's why it took me so long to figure out who my killer was. *g*

You Are Oregano

You have are charming, funny, witty, and smart.
You love to party - and people love to party with you.
You are always friendly and warm. You are able to help people get along.

Well, it SOUNDS good. Not sure it really fits me, though. LOL!

Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing your process. Very interesting.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I'm definitely in between.

trish said...

I've always wondered how writers write. Thanks for insight into how you do it!