Friday, March 8, 2013

How To - Writing, Step TWO

A few weeks have passed and the little notebook, kept inseparably attached to your writing pen, is rapidly filling with notations, sketches, thoughts and images.  Random though these may appear, you now have the opportunity to create an organized story out of the scrolled chaos scribbled over the pages of that precious little book.

The assembly of your cacography into a coordinated thread of ideas is the next step...aka: creating an Outline.

(This is actually my least favorite step!)

Typically, once an author has a fair number of pages filled with ideas, he also has a relatively good idea about what his story will become.  At this point, the great temptation is to begin the act of writing the actual story, bypassing the important step of outlining the plot - including character devlopment.  I am one of these authors who have been unmercifully enticed into skipping the outline in lieu of writing the story.  However, this is never a good idea....particulary for me!

I learned a valuable lesson from a very famous, very successful author - someone I admire tremendously.  J.K. Rowling understood the importance of the outline.  For FIVE YEARS, Ms. Rowling outlined the Harry Potter series, beginning with that infamous train ride sketching ideas on napkins as she travelled through Scotland the day Harry Potter was created.  Not only did J.K. Rowling outline the plots, she also outlined the details of each intricate allotment in her stories, ie: the type of feather used in each wand, the smells and tastes of the food consumed in the dining hall, the rulebook for Quiddich, the color of the woodwork in Snape's office, etc.  My admiration for the dedication of this talented writer allowed me to take a step back, breathe deep and begin the process of outlining my own series. 

Initially, outlining your story will feel an arduous task.  Fortunately, the notebook you have compiled will assist you and as your outline progresses, the skeletal portion of your story will take shape.  Start by identifying the conflict and subsequen resolution.  What ultimate antagonism will your hero/heroine face and how will they overcome it (assuming they do)?   The events that occur prior to this climax and those that follow are the rest of the outline.

Creating the basic blueprint for your novel is worth your time and dedicated effort to complete.  My advice is to follow the example of those who have proven successful - such as J.K. Rowling.  There will be much more to add to this outline in time but without it, detail will be lost and the spine of your story will be soft. 

So here's to the strength of a well-written story!  Here's to the OUTLINE!

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