Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Outlines, Pantsers, Organic, Linear--What's Your Method

Outlines and other methods of organizing writing is a perennial discussion among writers. There are nearly as many opinions as there are writers. I've been known to talk about the topic a few times. (Check out How the Writing Minds Works or Terra Incognita.)

While I don't use a formal outline to write fiction, my master's thesis, on the other hand, was meticulously outlined. I do use a rough storyboard/table of scenes that allows me to write where ever my mood or muse takes me.
But as I get closer to completing the rough draft for FRIENDLY FIRE, I think I need a little bit more organization, so that I can see the remaining holes (or to be honest, the gaping canyons) I need to fill in. ; )
There's a great discussion of how other authors write starting with outlining on Barbara Rogan's blog, In Cold Ink. The post is In Praise of Outlines. As a member of the Books and Writers Forum, she started a corresponding discussion that got a lot of great comments, too. In fact, many of the writers involved described how their minds work with some amazing analogies.
Diana Gabaldon who is known for her historical novels with a twist uses the kernel method and added the following analogy.
"I just tell people I'm a network writer; i.e., my brain is not wired linearly, but hooked up as a network. Imagine one of those Christmas-light things that's like a net, with bulbs at each juncture. When I get a kernel and start working, one of the bulbs lights up--but often, so do other bulbs in the network, often ones that aren't anywhere physically near the first one."
Beth Shope described her organic, linear method in the following way:
"I was just thinking yesterday that organic writers plant the seeds of future plot development as they write, sometimes all unknowing. Anything, however innocuous at the time--an event, a line of dialogue, an observation, an object--can end up producing fruit. If you look back along the trail of the story, you can see which seeds grew and bloomed, and which turned out to be weeds. Those you yank out."

The truth of the discussion is that whatever method works for each writer is what they should do.

Do you outline, write in chunks, or use a linear format?
What works for you?

Who knows you might help me find some enthusiasm for this next, necessary step in my journey to completing FRIENDLY FIRE.