Monday, October 4, 2010

Seat-of-the-Pants or Outline?

Oh, the eternal question, asked over and over on writing forums: "Do you outline your novel ahead of time or just make it up as you go?"

I've always been of the make-it-up-as-you-go mind, also known as being a "pantser," but with the current WIP I decided to do an outline. Too many times I've gotten a good start and just not been able to keep with it. Somewhere I get stuck, get bored, don't know where to go and abandon the project. So I decided to try the outline method.

And promptly got stuck on that.

I read some blogs about how to do it, bought the book "The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing" and printed up the worksheets, but I'm stymied by it. Probably because I'm starting it in bits and pieces rather than taking a day and really getting into the groove. This week, when I have some time off, I'm going to set aside time to figure it out.

Some critics say templates like this turn out drab, unremarkable stories. Maybe so. We'll see how it goes.

Another method I've been dabbling with is in between a full outline and pantsing. A member of the writer's group I attend posted about her style in her blog here. That seemed to be a good approach for getting some work done in spare minutes, here and there. As I think up different scenarios I jot them down and then add them to the long list of bullet points. Right now I'm putting them in chronological order, which I will then use to fill in the Marshall plan worksheets.

Although this morning, when my job duties were all caught up and I had some spare minutes, I was looking at the bulleted list and wondering if it would be easier to do index cards, as many writers do. Then it would be easy to shuffle them around into the right place.

And then I wondered if all this wondering is just another way to think about writing, rather than doing any actual writing. And I remembered that quote by, who was it, Dorothy Parker? "I hate writing. I love having written."

I don't want to be in that situation. I want to love writing again, as I used to love it. I don't want it to be a chore; I want it to be a delight. I hope to find that joy again in November, during NaNoWriMo, when I'll give myself permission to just write. Just write. Just write.

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