I began writing fiction as an interior decorator of rooms that were ill-designed.
“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”
– Ernest Hemingway
Specifically, my early stories feature quirks and atmosphere but lack something in orchestration and plot. In other words, I began this adventure as a die-hard pantser who resisted outlining and structuring.
Over the past several years, I have slowly admitted that I actually thrive on using an extensive outline. It has been pretty strange to evolve toward something I so despised before and to realize that I hated outlining because I wasn’t taking it far enough!
Last month, I took a week or so to concoct a 60-page outline template. Sooo nerdy. More precisely, my new template is an outline, thematic map, research summary, worldbuidling bible, and character map. I’ve used it to write most of a novel draft and it is going so much better than my previous drafts.
Before this, my foray into outlining led me to use a spreadsheet (I was inspired by J.K. Rowling’s). While it helped me more than any other type of outline had, I was still struggling. This latest template has me finally hitting my stride, it seems.
What I’ve created is pretty over-the-top so I’m not comfortable posting it or sharing it yet. It’s pretty individual to me and how I think. So far, it has empowered my need to be super thorough, a need I hadn’t necessarily realized I had.
At any rate, my 60-page outline template is not all that revolutionary as writing tools go. It’s basically an enormous questionnaire to fill out as I flesh out the structure and all its moving parts.
But it feels revolutionary to my daily struggle with fiction writing! This way, I have my daily marching orders–literally. I can just head out on a writing walkabout as I dictate my novel into a digital recorder. It helps to now have a full vision of what needs to be created, as I take the outline for that day with me on my iPod for reference.
I’m finding that I’m more gracefully weaving all the threads of character, theme, worldbuilding, and other elements already mentioned. I think this is because I’m not preoccupied about where the story’s even going! Or what it’s even about. 🙂 Or who the people in it even are…
So that’s what’s going on in my fiction world right now. Happy writing in yours.