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Jan 27, 2009

Clever New Outlining Trick

I need to write faster -- no, not faster but more efficiently, and with greater discipline.

Doing a performance analysis of my writing, I noticed I waste a lot of time in re-writes. Although I write from a general outline, I often find when I actually come to write a scene, what I thought would work, won't. So I have to re-write, not only that scene, but all the early parts of the book which now no longer mesh with my scene, and I also have come up withh a new outline for the future parts of the book yet to be written. This sometimes takes me weeks, even months.

Margaret Fisk has a link on her site to Lazette Gifford's Phase Outline system. In this, you write what almost amounts to a draft of your novel, without the pretty writing, in order to make certain the plot works before you commit to polishing the scenes. This should help prevent those massive backtracks and constant re-writing which drain so much time from finishing the book.

I am trying it. I haven't quite gotten used to it so far -- my phrases aren't detailed enough, and I find just a bunch of numbered phrases in a row difficult to keep track of, since I'm a visual thinker. I would prefer a way to have them in different colors or in different boxes. Mabye if I put it on Excel? I've done that before, but the problem is that Excel doesn't encourage long sentences, and my phrases already tend to be too short. They don't convey enough information to prevent scenes from taking me by surprise when I go to write them.

I finished my re-writes of Dindi Book 1 on Friday. I printed it Monday and gave it to a Beta reader. The ending, in particular, is a bit too sparse. But while I let it gell a bit and let the Beta reader finish it, I'm working on a detailed Outline for the rest of the series. Because this series originally was one book, and the plot in Book 1 has to be absolutely consistant with the conclusion in Book 7, I think it is a good idea to have the rest of the books mapped out as clearly as possible. In fact, it would be terrific if I could actually finishe the entire series by the end of the school year (i.e. August).

By the phrase method, I need a 500 phrase outline for a 100,000 phrase book. (I did an outline for Book Two and only came up with 186 phrases, and that's not from lack of plot points. Rather, my problem is that my "phrases" aren't finely grained enough.

For six books in all, I ought to have a 3000 phrase outline. About 50 pages? I'm working on it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you! This was an excellent post, with a lot of helpful information. Best of luck on your trials with this approach, and may all tribulations stay on the Enterprise.