August 11, 2011

The More Things Change

Today I looked over my outline -- a set of virtual index cards created in SuperNotecard -- to consider whether the sequence of events in my story still makes sense. As I've revised over the last couple of weeks, I've ended up rearranging scenes and writing some unplanned new scenes, so the outline needed review.

I was relieved to conclude that the basic order of events is still logical. With the recent changes, there are even parts that work better than before. Since my novel involves three separate storylines, the idea of doing any more serious restructuring is daunting. I'm glad that I get to keep the chapters in the order I decided on months ago, but I really wanted to assure myself that I wasn't just avoiding change because it's the easier option.

I get kind of exasperated that at this stage I'm still sitting down and writing scenes that take the story in a different direction than I planned. By now, I want the story to be settled.

During my more reasonable moments, I realize that this is a very silly thing to want. It's awesome that without even meaning to, I keep coming up with ideas that make the story better that I thought it was going to be. Oh yeah, duh. As I've written about before, it's crucial to get the story right, and I'm just going to have to make as many changes as it takes until that happens.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Michael Agger at Slate investigates the science behind the question of how to be a faster writer: "It's no secret that writing is hard ... but why can't I be one of those special few for whom it comes easily? What am I doing wrong? Why haven't I gotten any faster?" (Thanks, Edittorrent!)


Christopher Gronlund said...

I've never used an outline. But...thanks to you, I'm now a big fan of Super Notecard. As I work on other things the rest of the year, I'm plotting the next book. Using Supernotecard.

What you talk about--having a story [naturally] deviate from a solid outline--is my fear about using an outline. I typically jump in with a vague idea and figure it out along the way. I wonder what will happen when I start the next book and I break away from the outline, but will have to get back to it. Or change the outline around based on what changed if it's so big that I need to see where I'm going.

So...since you got me hooked on Super Notecard, it's up to you to figure out how to handle a good outline that changes and share the solution with us all so when it happens to me, I can be like, "Lisa fixed this problem like this!" ;)

Lisa Eckstein said...

I used an outline for the first draft of this novel, but it was very basic -- I think I only had one line per chapter. That was still the most detailed outline I've ever created for a first draft.

I planned the second draft with an extremely detailed outline, using the outline feature of my word processor. It worked well for advance planning, but when I made changes as I wrote, I ended up spending more time than I should have on updating the outline.

With SuperNotecard, I'm doing basically the same thing as I did with the traditional outline, but as I'm sure you've discovered, it seems easier to organize ideas and move them around. I am still having to spend some time updating when I make changes, but it's manageable.

I think the nature of SuperNotecard -- like real index cards -- is that it's not a big deal to adjust your outline, so no specific solution is required. At least, I hope that's what you'll find when you get to that point. If not, let me know and we'll figure something out!

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