Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Outlines are Hard, I Have Too Many Plot Lines, and George and Stinkin' Martha

Outlining is kicking my behind. I can get at most three or four sections plotted before my brain starts to dribble out my fingers and make a big ol' mess all over my outline. This has happened several nights in a row, so it may be a sign that I should only try to outline three or four sections a night and spend the rest of my writing time writing the scenes I outlined on earlier nights.

I've also got a problem with having too many characters and too many mini-plots. By too many, I don't mean more than are good for the novel (I think). I mean more than I, a novice writer, know how to handle effectively. I'm going to have to get some good mystery books and see how they handle a large cast of suspects, each of which is hiding something, just not the thing.

Speaking of getting books, I am sick of having my library privileges held hostage by "George and Martha" or, as my son now thinks it is called, "George and Stinkin' Martha." It wasn't even that great a book, and one day, the day before Thanksgiving. (Yes. Thanksgiving.) it vanished. I renewed it for about three months and then in April we found it! I grabbed it, thanked every deity that may or may not exist in this or any other dimension, and put it in a safe place.

Stinkin' safe place. I haven't seen the book since.

But I've decided that we've reached the point of ridiculousness. (Ridiculum is, Firefox informs me, not a word. It should be.) I'm going to shell out the twelve bucks for "George and Stinkin' Martha" and ransom my library card! Then I will read many, many more books. That will make me write better. It always does.


  1. I think if you've spent more than a week outlining without writing anything, you're doing it wrong. Accept that your first draft will suck (just like everybody else's) and write the sucker. You obviously have your characters mapped out, you probably have your setting, have decided whodunnit, and who bit it and why--throw them all into the hopper and watch them fight. Write what you see. :)

  2. Thanks! This is what I did tonight, and it was better. I really wanted to try outlining because I "pantsed" my last ms, and I remember that Dan Wells said he wishes he'd tried outlining sooner, but now that I've tried it, I think I need to be writing and outlining at the same time.