Sunday, June 3, 2012

Writing Marathon 58

Today's writing time: 30 minutes, outlining.

The moral of today's story is that a good outline is worth a hundred thousand words.

I dug up an old outline of a story that has stayed with me for over a decade, lurking on the peripheral of my attention, almost as if every story that I write is for the purpose of learning the skills necessary to write this story well.

One of the hurdles I must clear to even begin writing this monstrosity is to organize and detail a decent outline. I've written plenty of outlines in the last decade, and plenty of stories with and without an outline, but all of those stories have been shorter. Not counting an attempt to write this very story, the longest story I've ever written is about 60,000 words, and that was a rare bird indeed. My mode length is more like 500 words. Let me tell you, outlining a 3,000 word short story is an entirely different beast than a 90,000 word fantasy novel. When you are outlining for shorter works, you can get away with half phrases and other barely decipherable notes to yourself. For one thing, you are probably going to write the story immediately, and not a decade later. And if the linear plot or the revelation of details in your outline is a bit jumbled, that's ok because you can slot them into the correct place as you write, because it's only 3000 words that you are juggling at once.

So... The outline that I wrote a year and a half ago is almost completely useless. I feel like I had a lot more details worked out than what is actually in the outline. Not like it matters, since the organization of the plot also blows. When I wrote out what I could salvage on notecards, I only ended up with 11 scenes. This explains why, the last time I tried to write a rough draft, I quit because it felt boring. It's a bit too much meandering from point A to point B, if you ask me. I am so thankful that I have learned more about pacing, themes, and outlining even this past year (like, here).

I even peeked at some of the notes I took over a decade ago, so I could have a good laugh. If I thought I was ready to reconstruct the whole thing from the ground up a year ago, I am definitely ready now. Wish me luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment