How do I outline?
What's a good method and what will work for me?
How do I keep my focus when I just want to delve in and write?
How do I know where I want my story to go?
Is this going to ruin the story for me?
Will my characters still be able to lead me if I’ve plotted their path?
My questions in the realm of outlining go on and on. I contribute this to the fact that I've always been a "pants" writer; as in, I write by the seat of my pants. Or so the saying goes. I feel that I need to learn to outline to push myself further as a novelist (as opposed to just being a writer) but every time I give it a go I end up distracted, frustrated, and/or disheartened. Outlines ruin my euphoric new-novel high and subsequently scare me away.
So what’s the answer to my problem? Well, I think my options are as follows: Learn to finish novels without an outline, use my first draft as my outline, or find a method that doesn’t bog me down and ruin the story for me.
I’ve tried various “methods” and have tackled the advice of others with some success, but I’ve never succeeded in making a complete outline. They always fail me (or is it that I fail them?) Most recently I tried the Snowflake Method, as you may or may not remember, for my NaNo novel and the one previous to it. It’s not bad, tedious maybe, but I don’t feel like it’s working for me. Both of the stories I used this method for have larger holes in them than anything I’ve ever written pants-style. Of course, that might have a lot to do with me not completing the steps of the method more than the method itself. So…I guess it’s back to research and trial and error while I try to figure this out.
Tell me though, if you please. What is your opinion on outlines? Are they necessary? Did you struggle to become an outliner? Is there a method to your outlining madness? Do you have a method you’d like to share? An outlining success story? Advice?
Anything – I’ll take it!