I suppose most authors are a sort of hybrid. Sure, there’s those authors who say they wrote a sparkling first draft with no outline. I’ve never personally met one, but I’ve heard about those awesomely talented souls.
Then, there are the authors who will plot and outline—100 pages of outline for a book.
Personally, if I’m going to put that much effort, I’m going to be writing, not outlining.
Yeah, I’ve tried the major outlines.
“First Draft in 30 days” by Karen Wiesner, and the follow-up how-to book, “From first draft to finished novel”. She says her outline gets about that long, before she even begins writing her draft. I think her process rocks, but it’s not something I can follow.
I took a class with her at one point. One of the many classes on improving the craft I’ve taken. She is a very knowledgeable author, and a prolific one at that. She outlines in 30 days, and her second draft is of great quality—in another 30 days or so. No wonder she is so prolific.
Yet, that type of outlining just doesn’t work for me.
I’ve taken many, many classes. And from each one, I’ve found bits that work for me.
For each book I’ve written (6+1 novella, at this point) my pants-plotting approach changes.
I’ve heard this is true for many writers. Different books work with different approaches.
My latest novel I wrote for SavvyAuthors.Com June boot camp. It’s the second in the series, so went pretty fast. I finished by the 20th of the month, and that was with taking a few days off. So, in about 18 days.
First, I need to admit that I’m a fast writer. Plus, having goals and motivation and the expectation of a team really had me pushing hard.
Second, I need to admit my first drafts are slim. Some complain about overwriting a draft, then needing to cut words. I usually end up needing to add a few scenes and in total, adding about 20k words in my second draft—you know, the important stuff like emotions, setting enhancements, emotions. Putting my characters in clothes. Making sure they’re not standing in some blank, white space. Little things like that J
As the second book in the series, I knew my people and the places. I knew how my characters would react.
So, I was able to use my spreadsheet and do a scene outline. (I’ll post about that later this week.)
Yet, my first draft came in at a bare minimum. My second draft will need a ton of work. Now, part of this is because there were about 12 scenes I didn’t feel like writing at the time, so just put <<INSERT scene about such and such here>>. Those in themselves will add at least 12k if not closer to 20k to my word count.
Then, I can go back and add the little details J Or not so little as the case may be. You know, the ones that take scenes and action and dialogue and turn them into an actual story that others want to read?
Yeah, those little details.
So, to end my rambling, my point is this.
A writer’s approach to each novel may be different. It changes over time, being an organic thing. And that’s okay.
But the other point I wanted to touch on is that even when I outline, I NEVER stick to it 100%. The characters/story/plot/events may take me down new roads I didn’t think about and that’s all for the good.
Because in this way, I can have that excitement and organic feel to my writing that pantsers hold so dear, but at the same time I have this little road map to guide me on the major events that is so critical to a cohesive story.
Even if I do go down the scenic route every now and then.