Misconceptions About Outlining – Book Trailer for Outlining Your Novel, Pt. 2 of 3

many authors decide outlining is not for them after hearing the surface arguments before you make that decision let's take a look at some of the common misconceptions about outline misconception number one I'll lands require a formal formatting much of the avoidance of outlining comes down to nightmarish memories of the outlines we had to learn in high school you know the type Roman numerals graduated intense and perfectly parsed grammar just looking at one is enough to kill your creativity one the Galactic Empire attempts to Squatch the Rebel Alliance to big spaceship goes after little spaceship three big spaceship catches little spaceship for bad guy boards little spaceship a guy breathes heavily that's just a whole barrel of fun isn't it even with an exciting story you're more likely to snap your pencil point in frustration then wear it down to a nub with a flood of enthusiastic ideas Fomalhaut lines such as we learned in school may suffice for recording the bare bones of our stories but let's face it they're not exactly enjoyable by the time you reach 5 farm boy goes on mission to save beautiful princess you're probably going to be yawning and checking Twitter fortunately however outlines don't have to look anything like this inverted staircase in the book we explore a variety of outline formats but for now remember outlines don't require the crossing of every T the dotting of every I and the buttoning of your top collar button rather they should be opportunities for throwing caution to the wind living on the edge and breaking any rules silly enough to raise its head misconception number 2 outlines limit creativity author sometimes feel writing an outline will box them into a rigid plan which can be deviated from only under risk of death as soon as they put an outline on paper they fear they've locked their story into an immutable form that can never be changed even if they come up with a better idea halfway through the first draft when I was a kid I loved those connect the dots puzzles the artist would remove the lines in their sketches and replace them with spaced out dots each of which was accompanied by a number if I succeeded in connecting the dots in the correct order I would magically end up with a kitten or a dolphin or a barn it was fun but it didn't exactly allow for much creativity if I didn't follow the dots exactly I wouldn't end up with a picture of anything recognizable in other words if I didn't follow the predetermined outline I was sunk fortunately however this needn't be the case with a novels outline like the pirate code in the movie pirates of the caribbean the curse of the black pearl we should consider outlines to be more like guidelines a good outline should be a spur for creativity not a stumbling block the author is the master of the outline not its slave if and when you come up with a better idea while in the midst of writing chapter 17 by all means take a good tight hold on the muse and let its wings bear you to new and exciting Shores even if those Shores weren't originally on your map outline should encourage wild creativity daring experimentation and focused inspiration if you're not encountering these elements in your own outline you're probably looking at the process in the wrong light misconception number three outlines Rob the joy of discovery some authors rubel against outlines because they believe creating one will SAP the joy of discovery they find in writing a first draft it's true that for all the benefits outlining offers it also requires a few sacrifices the opportunity to write a first draft full of unexpected discoveries is one of those sacrifices but it's not as black as it sounds you're not losing the opportunity for unexpected discoveries not at all what you're doing is moving those discoveries from the first draft to the outline all the funds still there it just occupies a different place in your timeline thriller author and Edgar nominee Raymond Benson explains I figure out all the hard plot details in the outline so you might say I really write the book when I do the outline in many ways an extensive outline is a first draft the only difference is the outliners process takes maybe a quarter of the time the outline like the first draft is the mistake draft the dry-erase board where we unveil our ideas and see how they line up on the page out liners and panthers alight go through this process instead of stealing creative joy the outline expands and authors opportunities for exploring his story he gets to experience the original act of creation in the outlining process during which he comes up with the raw story idea sorts out implausibility and fills in plot holes in essence he's constructing the skeleton of his story when he later begins the first draft he hasn't retreading old ground instead he's digging deeper into his understanding of his story by fleshing out the skeleton adding the new material that will become the inner organs skin hair muscles and cartilage using the outline to figure out the technicalities of your plot gives you the freedom to explore your characters settings and themes in intimate detail before your first draft prolific fantasy author Jeff bandimere explains yes I knew what I was going to write about in a chapter ahead of time so there was less process of discovery in terms of what was going to happen however I found I could give more thought to how and why things happened because I already had this outline in place on some level I focused more on each scene and how the scenes fit together I find that there's relief and a great calming effect in knowing that I can extrapolate ahead of time on the macro level fill in a certain level of detail and still find the writing in the actual scene writing vibrant and exciting studies have proven most people are noticeably stronger in one hemisphere of the brain or the other mostly due to their tendency to exercise one side more often the left brain is analytical and logical allowing us to plot our stories in a linear timeline and make rational decisions about our characters in their motives the right side of our brains is where all the juicy creativity in raw inspiration takes place the left brain thinks in facts the right brain thinks in images and feelings neither side of the brain is better than the other but as writers we can't discount the value of figuring out which side we live in most and then stretching ourselves to explore the uncharted territories on the other side utilizing an outline allows us to take advantage of both sides of our brains by divvying up the necessary responsibilities of creating a story when we outline the creative process can be divided into four categories conception outlining writing revising conception is a deeply right brain activity we can't explain where the first spark of an idea comes from it's often nothing more than an image or a feeling welling up from our subconscious and demanding an explanation my own period of conception can last several years I allow the story to kick around in the back of my head adding to it through subsequent flashes of inspiration until I feel it's grown into an idea large enough to explore with my left brain outlining is where the left brain gets its first crack at the story this is the phase in which I lay out all my touchy-feely ideas and analyze them with my left brain to make sure they all fit together I identify the missing pieces and fill in the holes although outlines demand right brain creativity as well they are primarily a logical left-brain activity I have to ask myself does this character's motivation make sense to this event in the plot logically lead to this outcome does the story arc hold together getting the majority of the left brain grunt work out of the way in the outline allows me to once again turn my creativity loose in the writing stage writing this story is an intensely right-brain experience this goes against popular opinion which believes the outlines courses any hope of creativity by imposing a predetermined plan under the story just the opposite is true because I know where my story is going and because I've already put my left brain to work ensuring the story makes sense I can surrender the discovery of the story details back into the capable care of my creative right brain revising brings the process full circle by once again imposing left brain rationality under the creativity of the first draft where the right brain has charged ahead in all its sloppy colourful wonder the left brain now follows behind mopping up the excess and straightening ideas so they achieve their maximum power through clarity and cause and effect misconception number 4 outlines take too much time one of poly Panzers arguments against outlines is that they take weeks or even months to write and that's absolutely sure on average each of my outlines takes me three months from start to finish three months is a long time but not so long as you'll spend on the heavy-duty rewrites required to turn a rambling for strapped into a tight cohesive salable novel consider again my experience with my fantasy dream Lander before writing my outline I spent eight months writing fifty pages that page count totals out at just over six pages a month that's a page and a half a week and less than a third of a page a day that's pitiful it was all so torturous and if that wasn't bad enough eventually I had to go back and spend an additional three months rewriting those fifty pages to bring them up to speed with the outlines improved and streamlined version of the story I ended up spending nearly a year on a process that would probably have required only a few months had i taken the time to outline in the beginning outlining requires an outlay of patience we have to be willing to put off the actual writing in order to get our ducks in a row but this preparation pays for itself in innumerable ways a mountain climber would never consider tackling Mount Everest without investing serious preparation time in planning his route organizing his group collecting and double checking his gear and training his body authors who dash off to write a hundred thousand world novel are just as likely as hasty climbers to get themselves in trouble in the long run preparation takes time and effort but it's always worth it in the end tune in next week for part three of the outlining your novel map your way to success book trailer benefits of outlining I

4 thoughts on “Misconceptions About Outlining – Book Trailer for Outlining Your Novel, Pt. 2 of 3

  1. I guess I tend to outline and write, interchangeably
    I sometimes scrap 80% of the outline while i write random parts of the story, as I find things that make more sense as I go

  2. Outlining is great for projecting possible outcomes and stretching ourselves to choose the most interesting and exciting.

  3. I actually find that when I outline I put myself in the world of the story. I.E. soldier going on a mission, I'll actually write his orders to real format. Then I say "Well this is boring, how can I derail this mission?"

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