Monday, August 30, 2010

I Have Hit a Wall.

I have hit a wall.

A wall I have avoided for a long time now.
A wall most professional authors need to learn how to climb.
A wall I have learned to hate.

A wall called... OUTLINING.

As most of you know, I am in the process of revising my book, but "revising" isn't a strong enough word. I am in the process of a full-on rewrite. This is something I chose to do but at the time didn't realize how painful it would be.

Last week, after successfully completing 40,ooo words, I realized one of my sub-plots wasn't working. In addition, the time frame was off and another sub-plot felt extraneous. To say that I felt like crying would be an understatement. I felt like ripping my hair out and stabbing myself with pencils. How could I have gotten 40,ooo words in and screwed up like this?

The answer?

No outline.

In my defense, I write like some wonderfully talented people paint. I apply layer upon layer of words until I get it right. If something doesn't feel right, I add (or cut) more words, smashing and crashing it around until a beautiful portrait emerges. This method has served me well, until now. Right now I need a master plan. An outline. And what really drove it home for me was watching my new favorite show "On the Road with Austin and Santino." Just like Project Runway, I noticed the guys draping their dress forms to decide what the finished dress would look like BEFORE they began actually constructing it. They were draping and pinning and moving fabric around without ever stitching a thing. Not to mention the sketches they were pausing to create. These were master craftsmen who were, in essence, OUTLINING their creations.


Yes, the dress form sealed it for me in terms of deciding I had to do this, but actually writing one still scared me to death. Outlining meant knowing everything that was going to happen before I wrote it. Right? Well, sometimes I just don't. Sometimes I discover my story AS I write it, so this outlining business has always made me feel boxed in, un-artistic, and uncomfortable.


SO, I did what I have learned to do for any dilemma. I prayed about it.

And the answer was the same: YOU NEED TO LEARN THE SKILL OF OUTLINING!

But, as God so often does, he sent several angels to lead the way.

To be continued...


To be continued with all of the outlining tips I have received and more about how I intend to achieve this. SF will also be posting about her experiences with outlining, including how it pertains to illustrations. And PLEASE, if you have any advice, we'd love to hear it! In fact, we beg you for it :)


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Welcome to the Outliners. We're a wonderful group who finds outlining helps increase our creativity, not hinder it (as pansters would like you to believe). ;)

Christine Fonseca said...

Welcome! I LOVE outlining! So darn necessary! I agre with Stina on this one.

Tess said...

to be continued? Tell us about those outlining angels...I need them over here! :D

Hardygirl said...

I hear ya, sista!! I'll follow up with a post instead of commenting . . .

More later--sf

Tere Kirkland said...

Awesome metaphor! I guess that's how I work. I take the unbleached muslin (my story ideas) and drape them around the dress-form until it looks good, then I start patterning. ;)

Unfortunately, I can apply this to writing, but ask me to make a shirt and I'm stumped!

Looking forward to your posts.

Corey Schwartz said...

I can't imagine how anyone could write a novel without at outline! It's like a complicated puzzle and all the pieces have to fall into just the right place. What are the chance of that happening without planning?

Elana Johnson said...

My heart is bleeding for you. I hate outlining with all my heart and liver. But I agree with you. It is a necessary skill that I'm going to have to somehow figure out how to do. Good luck!

Tamika: said...

Outlining is one I need to master too. At some point I was bound to face this narrow path:)

Praying for you.

storyqueen said...

I don't outline* HOWEVER I always have an idea of what I want "the dress" to look like when it's done....I just am not sure how to make it look the right way unless I play around a bit. So I cut patterns as I go, and sometimes I have to scrap stuff.

A very rough "plan" seems to emerge as I write, but it would be a stretch to call it an outline. But I do write a great deal about ideas as to the direction of the book in a separate document. The separate document is not an outline...but it does help me find the way.

*Jane Yolen is giving a speech in Ireland about this...I read about it on her blog.

Kristi said...

Good luck with that outlining! ;-)

Kelly H-Y said...

Good luck ... I know you'll get through it!

Jessica said...

I just wrote a post on the issue of outlining in my own stories.

I hope you have more success with your rewriting!

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