Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Thinking and Writing
I do a lot of outlining in my head before it ever reaches solid form on paper. I'll mull ideas over, fitting them with what I've already got, sometimes replaying scenes over and over (don't tell anyone, but sometimes I act them out when no one is looking) until I know exactly how I want them to turn out ... and then when I try to write them down they end up smaller, less impressive than I imagined them.
I was sailing along, planning out The Perilous Forest (that's just a working title, by the way), when I realized that there was really very little suspense, tension, whatever you want to call it, and it was bogging down after a certain scene. I've been trying for a week to work it out, and I think I finally have. I must say that outlining is really helpful. I do a stream-of-consciousness kind of outlining, where I simply sit down and have a conversation with myself, writing it out as I'm thinking it.
It's been a long time since I did this, actually. I used to have what I called a writing journal; whenever I was writing, and came upon a difficulty, I'd write through it until a solution came to me. But I never used it to actually outline anything.
The nice thing about having an outline is that you don't realize something a hundred pages in that can't be fixed by simply going back and editing. Of course, before I started an outline for The Perilous Forest, I was already about eleven thousand words in; I'm fully aware that I may have to go back to the beginning and change some things, but so far I think I'm safe.
I'll be glad to get this story written; it's been rattling about in the back drawers of my head for long enough. And as nice as having everything planned out is, it's even nicer to be able to write it out.
I'm not sure what I'll do with it when I'm finished; I may release it as a serial, or I may try to get it published. We'll see.
I also have another story that I've been trying to write for two or so years that could do with some serious, serious outlining. I've got some good ideas for it, but every time I try to write it it just falls so flat; it's what I call a political fantasy (heavy on the politics, light on the magic), and gets into some convoluted schemes, counter-schemes, machinations and intrigue. It's a lot of fun to think about, but there's something about it that just doesn't click. It possibly has to do with my main character, who no matter how hard I try to define her, she seems like a one-dimensional person. Every scene I write with her turns insipid. Unlike Alice, of The Perilous Forest, who is beautifully alive and makes me happy whenever I write her, even when she's trying to slap someone.
There are, of course, other stories knocking on my mind, trying to get out: half formed ideas, snippets of tales, bits and pieces of conversations. For my part I put them in my little boiling pot and let them simmer.
Oh, and I'm working on a Chronicles of Narnia fanfiction. I've had it completely written for three or so years, but it had gotten shoved down deep in my email files and needs to be rewritten and polished up. I'll be sure to let you all know when I start posting it!
What are your methods of planning a story? Do you ever outline?