I started reading Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M Weiland. I am about a third of the way through the book and I am already loving her ideas. I consider myself a pantser, but if I’m honest with myself I have always been an outliner masquerading as a pantser. Normally it’s where I go when I’m stuck. I have never actually attempted to outline an entire book. I tend to like to let it grow organically, but some of the points she makes in the book are on spot. If I am getting to know my characters as I’m writing, I can’t lay the intricate frame-work for subplots as well. I have to go back in and try to weave them into the story, causing major rewrites.
I am in love with her idea on the perfect review. I have never heard of anyone doing that before. In the early stages of your outlining or at least before you start writing the novel, she suggests you write the perfect review full of specifics. That way you can focus your writing to fulfill that perfect review. I think before I start Harmony, I might have to try this technique.
She also reminded me of part of the process I employed when I started writing Reverie. She calls it asking the “What if” questions. Basically writing down anything that comes to your mind in reference to the story. I used to write out ideas for scenes all the time while working, sometimes they would work and other times they didn’t, but it was a creative thinking exercise that I have gotten away from.
I have spent the week outlining… everything. I even outlined this blog post (though I have completely strayed from it). I started working on outlining the remaining scenes of Dissonance. It made logical sense to start with the what if questions about the entire story and then even drilling down into the chapters that I knew I needed to write. I found some great ideas that I don’t think I would have found otherwise.
I was excited during the first day of outlining, I stumbled across a character that I didn’t even know was going to exist. This character is going to play a secondary character in Harmony. Later in the week when I was plotting along I had to come up with a way to make it feasible that she could show up in a different location. Once those little wrinkles were worked out, I had my supporting character for the third book. It felt amazing to see the books starting to tie in together a little better.
Wednesday, I was sitting outside during my lunch break in my usual place with a fresh notebook. I started plotting the scenes I was ready to write involving this new character. During my hour break I wrote over five pages of outline (on a steno pad of paper), but the most amazing thing happened. I realized how the book should end and how it would tie it into Reverie and why he moved so far away from his family. It was that elusive eureka moment. I had originally planned to end the book about three or four chapters later after he had moved, but this new ending just clicked. I don’t know how much it will need to be adjusted from the original idea, but the concept will stay. It will however involve a major rewrite to the first few chapters of Reverie to make the transition smooth, but the beginning of Reverie was on the chopping block anyway.
So now I’m back to how I was writing when I started writing Reverie several years ago; I am keeping a notebook at my desk and I’m periodically writing down little notes about what should happen next. I am so happy I decided to by K.M. Weiland’s book, I had forgotten how liberating writing ideas down was. I am proud to label myself as a newly reformed Outliner. I recommend everyone reading it.