Outline or Out of the Mist?

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
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shadow
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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by shadow » December 8th, 2009, 11:53 am

I am waaaaay out of the mist :) My story will start from one and switch to a completely diff. one until I like it.
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UtterInanity
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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by UtterInanity » December 8th, 2009, 12:02 pm

Both.

I tend to make a detailed outline of all the major events - and many minor ones - I want to include before I even start writing. This can get detailed enough to include lines of dialog or how I envision action scenes playing out.

But when I start writing, I don't look at the outline much at all, and I often end up going in directions I hadn't expected.

I don't think I could write without an outline, just because when a story is only in my head, it's far too fluid to stay still long enough to write it out. When I write the outline, it solidifies a bit, gives me something to work with. And then when I write it out, it becomes stone.

And then editing carves that stone into a sculpture.
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Uncle Gus
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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by Uncle Gus » December 8th, 2009, 12:08 pm

Yep, I'm definitely a misty kinda guy. I enjoy telling myself the story as I write it, it feels like the more excited I am the better I can express it. If I already know what's supposed to happen next, I tend to get aggravated over how best to fit the pieces together properly. Usually though, once I get about halfway through a story, I'll stop and do a very rough outline (more like a storyboard sequence of vague images), just to make sure I'm on the same path I started out on.

Does any of this make sense?

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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by Kathie.blog » December 8th, 2009, 12:10 pm

I used to be an out of the mist until I discovered that I couldn't get the darn thing to end and new characters kept walking in, disrupting the whole thing. Could have written another ten novels by the time I finally gave up and quit. I blame NaNoWriMo for part of that never-ending downward spiral. It's a great way to get motivated and prove to yourself that with some creative time structuring and diligence, you can really write 50K words in 30 days.

Then I had a story "come" to me and it had a very clear, very coherent end. I wrote out of the mist along the guidelines of reaching that end. But darned if that parade of new characters didn't come in and start screwing with the path. So I did what I later learned was Holly Lisle's method, of plotting and outlining using notecards. Worked beautifully. I wasn't constrained to a specific outline and could move bits and pieces around. From that point on, I've used notecards.

This last NaNo (yeah, I still do it because it's a never-ending learn-as-you-go, tweak it to fit your needs kind of thing) I lazily outlined at the very beginning of my notebook (I write longhand first, then transcribe. My brain just works better that way, which I suppose means come NaNo, I'm actually writing 100K words in 30 days). Flipping to the front as the story progressed, I was able to keep on track. Worked fairly well for that purpose. It's since been shelved so I can focus on the final revisions of the novel I was working on before November and get it agented and out of my hair. When I go back, I'll most likely move that outline back onto the notecards. I should add that I'm presently taking Holly Lisle's "How to think sideways" course (use this link to get there: http://howtothinksideways.com/members/?rid=1477) and WOW, what an improvement. It really helps keep that creativity from the "out of the mist" type of writing while keeping things tight (for those outliners and plotters and snowflakers).

When developing our Craft Chat for our regular writing group meeting just this past Saturday, I came across Randy's snowflake method (someone else mentioned it herein) and thought that interesting enough to share with our small group. I might take a closer look at it, but noted that he is a physicist first and foremost and for some of us, that kind of logic might be hampering to the creative juices. Still, it's an interesting way to head into the whole novel writing experience.

How's that for a short answer? :)

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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by GabbyP » December 8th, 2009, 12:53 pm

Outline-a-rama for me!

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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by wickerman » December 8th, 2009, 12:59 pm

I summarize chapter by chapter and then write something that looks nothing like my outline. :)
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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by JenLT » December 8th, 2009, 1:50 pm

I like to write a short outline with the major points plotted out. Then I write and always find that my story veers away from my original plan...so I write out a new outline just to keep myself focused and see if there are any plot holes. Inevitably, the story once again strays and new ideas pop out as I write. I think those are the best ones. I don't think I could come up with all of the ideas and plot twists right from the start. They seem to spring out from the things my characters do or say. I still write out a new outline though.

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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by CharleeVale » December 8th, 2009, 2:14 pm

I'm definately ouot-of-the-mist in the furthest way.

For one thing I have to hand write everything first. It makes me go slow enough to form coherent sentences that further the plot. (If I type I go on ridiculous rabbit trails that end up getting cut later) It also first as a first drafting process when I transcribe it into the computer. But I can't even really think what's going to happen immediately ahead in my story unless the pen is moving across the paper. I quite literally become the character and move through their life. However, occasionally a very vivid scene will pop into my head and I will have to write it out immediately.

I love my beautiful, silvery mist!

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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by roger239 » December 8th, 2009, 3:08 pm

I write quite a bit like I paint. Say I want a chair for subject matter: I lay it in out on canvas, step back and decide to make it a stool. I lay that in on top of the chair. When I finaly finish laying in everything else and relaying it in, I have so many unresolved issues where shapes want to morph from chair to drapes, stool to backdoor, I begin applying color... and reapplying color... and (well you get the idea). After several go-rounds, I find I just quit for no particular reason. After a few months, I revisit the painting and smile. It usually turned out pretty well. I like the approach because so much is out of control in the begining and so much resolution is obvious in the end. So my writing goes that sort of way as well: a few essays here and there, a few character skietches, etc. Then I do a lot of talking to myself. Several sketches become one, others become two, essays become scenes in flux or even characters, etc. A very messy process. Nontheless, in the end (and after several months in a draw) I wind up with an interesting work. No very commercial, but interesting.

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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by linguista » December 8th, 2009, 6:46 pm

Do you guys think there's a correlation between outlining and genre?

The first book I wrote was mainstream YA, and I just sat down with a head full of characters and wrote. My most recent project was a spiritual fantasy, and I started with a loose outline.

I think some genre might require you to remember details more, and some require you to know what's going to happen. For example, you probably need to work backwards from the end in a suspense or murder mystery. That's why I would never write a mystery, because it would entail remembering too many details.

So what think ye folk? Is depth of outline related to genre?

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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by Kathie.blog » December 8th, 2009, 6:57 pm

linguista wrote:Do you guys think there's a correlation between outlining and genre?
<snipped for brevity>
Is depth of outline related to genre?
Good question. I happen to spend most of my time in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre where an outline is essential. If I'm ever going to finish and keep track of the clues, weaving them throughout the storyline. When I wrote my dark comedy last month, I had a very simple outline and it served me well. The YA mystery, however, I never used one but that's mostly because it was already done, start to end, in my head before I even got to my computer. During the edits, I caught any loose ends. Now if I could just get the voice right --
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D. G. Hudson
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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by D. G. Hudson » December 8th, 2009, 8:09 pm

For a novel, I'm pro outline, as the current novel I'm writing has been called 'epic' in scope. It's a guideline to keep me in focus, with flexibility when those surprises happen that Scott mentioned. I don't find outlines confining, but alter them as needed. I also don't think that it stifles creativity. On the contrary for me, it opens up new possibilities, and allows me to move around in the storyline as needed.

I like Marilyn's 'out of the mist' designation, but that only works for me on short stories and mysteries, not in the type of science fiction I choose to write. I think it has a lot to do with the person's own creativity and how they approach it.

Some people call the outline process mapping, and that's a good description, it's like a map that you generally follow, but one that allows for side trips if something interesting shows up.

Interesting question for discussion.
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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by BransfordGroupie » December 8th, 2009, 8:59 pm

I am mostly 'Out of the Mist". Also writing start to finish. But being supernatural suspense I did have to stop about 3/4 through and outline the rest to make sure I put all the pieces together.
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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 8th, 2009, 9:39 pm

I'm a definite outliner. I don't like the feeling of not knowing where things are going!

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Re: Outline or Out of the Mist?

Post by OtherLisa » December 8th, 2009, 10:22 pm

I wish I could outline, but I can't ever think of anything that way -- the one exception being my recent whack at a screenplay -- and that was because it was a genre piece and certain story conventions were clearly dictated by that.

Instead for the most part, I feel like I'm some observer of the scenes that are playing out in my own head, and I write down what I "see" and "hear." I get to know characters the same way -- by observing them.

Yes, this sounds utterly insane, and probably need medication.

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