Have you ever written an outline fora story you were about to write?I remember writing outlines in high school
because they told us to, andI’ve found them helpful for speeches I’ve had to give. I’ve even written outlines for some of my college papers to make sure I had enough information to at least reach the required minimum page length. I was never great at making my papers longer than three to five pages. But I’ve never written an outline for any creative writing.
It isn’t often I get a full-blown story idea in my head. Usually these things come in the form of a character or scene that get’s kicked around my imagination until either more comes to me or I decide to write it down somewhere. A lot of them are still up there.
Of course the question of outlines doesn’t usually matter simply because my pieces fall into the flash fiction range. I do however toy with the idea from time to time of writing a longer piece; one with chapters even. I know, gasp!
Almost every author interview I’ve ever heard always contains the question where did you come up with the idea for x. Another favored question among interviewers is about the author’s writing habits or practices. “How do you write?” “How often do you write?” “When” or “where do you write?”
Different authors give different answers as you’d expect, but most seem to say something along the lines of “write every day.” One author even went so far as to say that waiting for inspiration was lazy.
Now if you’re writing fiction inspired by actual events, or if you’re, for example, Janet Evanovich who has said she knows what is going to happen in each book, writing a page or more a day doesn’t seem as daunting. At that point, it’s probably more about getting the piece written before some self-imposed deadline, or making sure it gets done at all. But I must confess to being a “lazy” writer. I don’t sit around and wait for my muse to speak to me exactly, but it does take some brainstorming before I’ve figured out exactly what I want to happen with the storyline. Once that happens, it’s full spead ahead.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I am curently considering writing a longer piece. The idea I have is a fun one, and I really want it to work. Part of me wants to just start writing now and worry about the details later, but part of me really wants to plan it more carefully to avoid what’s sure to be one heck of a lot of rearanging.
So, outline, or not?