Monday, October 26, 2009

Dun Dun Dun...Outlines

So I know you're wondering how the NaNo regional meeting went.  Everybody was really nice, blah blah, duh, of course.  We writers are nice people.  90% of us are fantasy writers.  *facepalm*  Oh well.  I will think of it this way: we're all part of the in-crowd.  It's pretty surreal being able to talk face-to-face about subjects that I normally only relate to Interwebby writers. We're going to have write-ins twice a week.  I'm going to try really hard to make it to at least one each week, but no guarantees.  Distance matters too, as not all of them will be on campus, and I hate taking buses.

In the world of my new, titleless baby novel, I've been outlining.  Very seriously.  Me, the serious writer, outlining.  I have two story maps (incomplete), a T chart, the beginnings of character biopses, and several pages of just free form notes.  I haven't even started the notecards yet.  You can't ever have too many roadmaps, right?  Errrr yes, so I admit I've probably been a closet plotter this entire time, masquerading shamelessly as a flier (by the seat of my pants, although this phrase never made sense to me--how can you fly by the seat of your pants, unless your pant seats have wings or some kind of mystical butt pixie dust?).

Anyway, since I've been reading Gail Carson Levine's blog religiously, I came across a post about notes.  You might want to check this one out.  Apparently, she takes notes during her writing process as a kind of diary/workbook/place to vent your hatred of your stubborn characters.  What amazes me, is how extensive her notes are and how messy.  And how she mentioned that books like The Two Princesses of Bamarre (which I conveniently have in my desk as a reference for a model YA fantasy novel), were "horrible, uncooperative monsters." What?  The Two Princesses of Bamarre was...bad at some point?  I know they say first drafts are never perfect, but somehow, I imagined GCL birthing beautiful novels through mental regurgitation, thoughts appearing on paper effortlessly, all while merrily munching on dark chocolate without gaining weight.  Well, the fact that this isn't true, gives me some perverse joy at knowing that everyone, even GCL, has to struggle.  Is this wrong of me?  Probably.  But she never has to know.  

Now I have notes too.  It's kind of a relief that no one has to see them except me, because they're so disorganized and incomprehensible.  But I bet GCL's are ACTUALLY color-coded with gel pens and decorated with glitter.  I bet hers go in neat lines and read like calligraphy. 

So now, I must ask again: plotter or flier?  What are you?  Have you ever tried the other method?  Do you believe GCL's shenanigans about struggling?  Surely it is a lie to make us feel better!


  1. Love her blog, which has been very helpful to me.

    And I'm a plotter. I write individual scenes with a goal in mind, but don't always follow my notes. So there's a lot of story that isn't planned, that just happens as I write.

    I'd have to do a insane amount of plotting to know what happens scene by scene in advance, and there are always surprises, so I've never felt that plotting took the life out of my writing, just makes me think more critically about what could happen.

  2. I fly, baby. I've tried to make outlines and they're basically a mess. I keep everything in my head much easier. I did make a brief outline (like one sentence) for each chapter of my NaNo novel. Can't wait for Sunday!

  3. We're kind of a combination. We always start off with a rough idea of where we want the book to go then we divide it up into sections and work out the smaller plot points as we go. Ok, now that I'm writing this it doesn't sound like flying by the seat of our pants at all. We're planners dammit.

  4. God, I would *love* to be a plotter, but my %$&*% brain won't let me. So I fly. I'm a pantser. Sometimes, not a very good one.

    I truly envy those who can outline ahead of time. Alas, my stories just don't unfold like that.

  5. Flier! I usually only kind of know where I want the story to go (like Beginning and End but no Middle or some other combination of 2 things, but never all 3), and I stumble along blindly from there. Sometimes I know exactly what I want in a scene or two, but that's about it.

    I want to outline, but the thought of it just makes my brain shut down. I get stuck on like stupid little things, which is kind of besides the point since you're just trying to get main points down. But yeah, trying the outline thing for this NaNo, which reminds me, I should get started...

  6. Wow! I'm green over here. You have an amazing organizational process. I have to admit that I just sit down and write. Outlines have never worked for me--my characters are too bossy. I dream of being organized like you. :D

    I love GCL! Her books are amazing. I love the idea of venting over stubborn characters. Thanks for the link. :D