Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Fricassee

The sense of community here is once again offering me a sense of buoyancy during the uber-tough revisions through which I've been wading for what feels like much too long.


So today's going to be an intense writing day for me. Want to get intense with me? Share what you'll be working on and we'll have a collective pool of writing energy and I'm-so-not-alone-ness from which we'll all benefit.

Gotta feel the love!

And while we're all gooey and schmoopy, let's share some indignity over the blog post I read yesterday that claimed, in no uncertain terms, that a writer MUST WRITE AN OUTLINE FIRST in order to successfully complete a novel. We've talked about this before, about how we all work differently. I shared my plotcard journey and its effectiveness. Many of you shared your own techniques.

I've just got to say: How can anyone claim that THERE IS ONLY ONE RIGHT WAY TO WRITE?

No, I'm not posting the link. It doesn't deserve such attention. (Wow, I felt like Lady Catherine du Bourgh there.)

So go on. Be indignant with me. And then get to work! I'll see you all on the Crazy Monday that awaits us.

Oh yes. I'm absolutely certain it's going to be crazy. Send chocolate.


  1. Ha. I wonder if there is something going on that I don't know about? Or maybe it was that blog post that started brains humming about being a plotter or a pantster? The past couple days I've seen a few posts on the matter, including a forum thread at the critting website. :]

    I do a bunch of things... or whatever works at the moment, but I never outline in the true sense. My experience with outlining back in school made me hate and loathe the convention, and resolve never to use it.

    I do write many notes while writing that could be accused of bearing a resemblance to an outline. A very informal and disorganized one. Also when I get midway through the novel, I usually gather my thoughts together and write a really rough synopsis. This usually points the proper way to the exit for me.

    Otherwise, I begin a novel with a character and an idea (could be something as vague as 'I want to write about somebody who can do this'). And that's all I need from the onset. <- Actually, that's really all I have for my planned NANO project.

  2. I can't outline. It feels like homework and if memory serves, I hated homework. But, as I sit with 25,000+ words in my new WIP which has remained stagnant for a couple weeks...dangit, I might try it.

    However, I've been revising and revising and revising my finished manuscript. I've come to the part where my title needs to be changed. I hate it. I loathe it. Titles are hard for me. I skim through my manuscript trying to see if any words pop out at me and nothing, zilch, chirping crickets. And I do understand that titles are usually changed anyway when you get a deal. I also suspect that if I submitted a manuscript that was titled, (Insert Title Here) it probably wouldn't entice an agent to say, "Wow, this girl's creative!" So that's what I'm working on. The upside is through skimming the manuscript, I'm revising and revising and revising.

    Wait, what was I talking about? :)

  3. I hope you have a great writing day, Authoress :-)

    Yeah, I'm not into the outlines. Never have been. I sit in front of a blank word document and start writing and don't stop until I have nearly 70k words.

    THEN I'll go back and flesh it out, do the GMCs of each and every chapter, switch stuff around. But to have a skeleton of a story done, I guess that's my outline. LOL.

    Writing is an art. It's not done the same way for every artist, although, there are some basic things that must happen with each story...but how to you to it, that's the fun of the art! **smile**

    But then again, I'm unpubbed, so, what the heck do I know, right? LOL

    Have a great day!

  4. Well I didn't outline at all and finished at 61k. Of course now I am having to revise like crazy but that's part of the fun!

    Hope your writing day goes well. Not sure mine will as I was up till 1am reading Catching Fire and then up at 6am with the baby so my brain is frazzled but who knows that may help!

    And I agree with bonotex titles are a nightmare!

  5. I'm privileged to know a number of published authors (including myself), several of whom have made various bestseller lists. Not one of them outlines.

    That blogger sounds like the knuckleheads in the 1950s and 60s who said "Artists have to use brushes."
    [See Jackson Pollock, Morris Louis, et al.]

    My favorite how-to-write anecdote is from Jennifer Crusie (NYT bestseller list maker): she spends several months staring out the window while the characters and plot work themselves out, then she writes it down. Maybe not the most efficient way, but it's successful. And outline-less.

    Trying suggestions for improvement is one thing. Accepting some idiot's dogma on their say-so is another.

    Just do what works for you.
    Good writing, everyone!

  6. This weekend I plan on finishing the revisions to my WiP. I'm registered for an online conference in October and want to - hopefully - be able to pitch this project to prospective publishers/agents. I also want to get a start on the editing process of the next work in line for ... Read Morethe query process. Oh, and they'll be margaritas tonight, the musical Wicked tomorrow night, and some relaxing.

    And, I stand up proudly and say, that I don't outline. I write. It works for me and I share your indignation.

    Have a great and productive weekend!!

  7. a pox on just about any 'writer must' post. except 'a writer must write'.
    have a great weekend!

  8. Augh! Outlines! Every time I try to make one, it kills my novel :( Although I find it helpful to make notes of what I intend to happen next so I can work in the right amount of foreshadowing, tension, character development, etc.

    Good luck with your writing this weekend!

  9. Authoress, I'm perplexed. Did the blogger mean to imply (or overtly state) that all writers must create some fully-fleshed-out formal outline for their projects? Or could he or she have used "outline" to stand in for "basic plan of attack"? If the former, then yeah, the blogger may be a little extreme in his or her opinion. However, I would submit that all writers "outline" in some way whether or not they do so intentionally.

    Whether we classify ourselves as "pantsers" or "plotters," we all know where our stories begin. The vast majority of us have at least a few clues about where our characters are likely to go during the course of their adventures. Quite a few of us even have an inkling of the ending early on. All of that may only be in our heads, but even vague head trails where everything remains flexible and characters drive the story all over the place on a whim still count as outlines of a sort.

    That's my story, at least, and I'm sticking to it. :-)

    (odlenin? Why is it I speak up once in a blue moon to mention some wild-eyed viewpoint, and the wordver I have thrust upon me includes the name of a socialist dictator?)

  10. An outline sounds great, except if I wrote one I wouldn't follow it.

    I just finished a novel after working on it for years -- I wrote every day, whether I felt like it or not, in spite on my full time job and full time family. I wrote while Yankee games were on TV, and in waiting rooms in medical offices, and at midnight because my wonderful husband said I could stay up all night if I wanted. Six people read it after I begged them and twisted their arms and paid two of them. A professional copyeditor went over it. Finally, I mailed the first query letters two weeks ago. Now I am fleshing out the sequel.

    I don't use an outline, but I maintain a big, rambling document of notes broken down by approximate chapters. When the story comes alive, it takes on a life of its own.

    In the end, the plot has to make sense, and you have to balance that with the growth of the story.

    Readers are critical, good readers who will level with you.

    Thanks again for the great website!

  11. I'm a pantser as well. Yep to outlines in school killing it for me as well. I've managed to get about 1/2 way through deep revisions on a current WIP. I want to be ready for beta readers by the end of September. Oh, the pressure.

  12. I personally get creative bursts of 'muse moments' and then form a story around them. If the one particular scene has enough momentum to support an entire cohesive outline, I'll put it in the "To Be Completed" pile.

    Right now I'm further editing/revising my manuscript for submission to a contest. (What's your opinion on writing contests??)
    I have a deadline of September 30th so I'm sure I'll be gray-haired and have the caffeine withdrawal shakes for the next couple of weeks.

    Good luck on your project!

    PS: Is it sad that when I read 'Lady Catherine du Bourgh' my first thought was, "Oh yeah! From Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!" ?

  13. I create a rough outline, more like a soft order of the ideas I brainstormed. It's not formal in any way and most definitely subject to change at a moment's notice.

    This weekend, I plan to revise my WIPs and brainstorm my next project.

  14. I did a three-post series about how nobody should "Dis" the map (outlining), but I didn't say everyone has to do it. I think it's a great tool, but some writers can just write stuff out without outlines. That's how I do the first draft, then the outlines and maps come later.

    Hope my post wasn't the one you were reading! ;)

    I've been working on my rewrite today, and just barely reached 50k, so I'm feeling REALLY REALLY on top of the world right now. It's just a great feeling for some reason, to know that I'm over halfway finished!

    Good luck with your writing! You're doing so great!

  15. I outline. Stephen King doesn't. Guess which one is published??

    The idea that there is one right way to write is ridiculous. Do what works for you. If someone completely new asked me about this issue, I'd explain that I use an outline and why I do. But I'd temper that with the advice that all writers go about their work differently, and what is important is finding a process that works for them.

  16. I have yet to to the same thing twice when writing a book. With my WiP, I am actually outlining (sort of) but it's an ever-evolving process and I still don't know how it's going to end.

    And anyone who says there IS only one way to write is ... delusional. Seriously delusional.

    The WiP is one that's been floating around my head for years now. A zombie novel. Not your sentinent zombies, no, these are Night of the Living Dead. My mc is a sniper for a team that's sent out to eliminate them (this is pre-zombie-apocalypse). This book is darker than anything I've written to date and it's more emotionally taxing ... but I love it.

  17. :shakes head: Some people can be so silly. The only way there would be only one correct way to write is if all writers were the same, and that's not going to happen any time soon. (And IMO, it shouldn't.) Write how you write, tweak it so that the process works best for you, and forget all the rest.

  18. There is only one way to write. You have to play "Follow The Muse."

    Mine might use different tactics than yours. My Muse makes me build the characters first and then wait for them to reveal their story.

    Although inspiration takes many paths muses are never wrong!!

  19. I admit to being a Dread Outliner, but only to get the story structure milestones in place. Otherwise, I overwrite in the discovery draft (rough draft) phase.

    I'm currently in the process of editing and rewriting the second half of a fantasy novel (rough draft clocked in at 207,438 words-obviously pantsed that one), and writing 1000 words/day on a new one, hoping that 100 days or so later I'll have a novel, and a MUCH tighter rough draft from the first.

    This is why the powers that be invented white boards, the larger the better. Every day writing is a learning experience, every word written is not wasted.

  20. caitmorgan... dumb question, but can't you make your novel into a 2-volume set? Just a thought.

  21. Hey! See you all in a few!