Some time ago I created a post that was dedicated to giving out three tips to help an author get rid of the dreaded writing slump with relative ease. The post is here for those of you that are curious. But the reason I mention this is not just an attempt to increase my web traffic by including links in my articles (That’s just a side bonus), but because I want to delve into more detail with regards to the third method I mentioned in that post.
This was the concept that it was imperative that you at least have a sketch of when ALL the cool stuff in your novel is going to happen. I would never make the mistake of advertising one of my suggestions as being a hard-rule, but I would argue that this is the closest I’ll ever get to doing such a thing.
Why you ask?
Well, my reasoning behind this is very simple. In my experience most of the times that I
feel stumped with my novel are when I am unable to see the direction in which it is going. Actually, let me rephrase that metaphor so that it can work for pantsers as well. I usually feel most stumped in my novel when I can’t figure out the different routes that I can take to make my story interesting.
Now before you jump to conclusions, this shred of wisdom is not meant to turn all writers into outliners or plotsers. Everyone has their own way of doing things and people just adapt to whatever they are most comfortable with, but that doesn’t prevent you from at least having a very vague outline written down about your story. An outline is more than just a list of events that can assist you when it comes to organizing your tale. At least for me, the outline is a source of inspiration.
Just elaborate with me for a moment. You sit down at your desk, you crack open a notebook, and you make a list of all the events that are going to occur in your story. At first, you may view this little outline that you created as being a merely pragmatic tool that you can whip out whenever you feel it to be necessary. And this perspective is one that is commonly adopted.
Most people usually only look back on their outlines when they want to have a status update of where their story is going. Whenever they forget about the actions of a
characters, they’ll rummage through their belongings until they find that old notebook in which they wrote the outline. when they run out of ideas for characters, they might peer over a few notes on characters that they just weren’t able to include in the final product. And, as with a great deal of methods, this is all fine and dandy.
(Yes, this is the BIG But)
This is a view that deliberately limits the potential benefits that you could reap from your outline. This way of looking at things is far too practical to allow you to feel the other awesome benefits that come with what many see as being a waste of time when it comes to making a story. But what other benefits could the outline have other than just being a handy toolbox that you can refer too every now and then? Well, honestly, it’s just one extra benefit. But this is one of those benefits that can make a world of difference.
Don’t think of that old notebook that you wrote your outline in as being a mere toolbox. Think of it as being a liquid inspiration dispenser that feeds you with every second that you stare into it. Yet I realize that this metaphor might be a tad too quirky for those of you that are more literal thinkers than I. So allow me to explain.
When you see an outline, you’re not just seeing a collection of notes. You’re looking at a version of your story that is already finished. And I don’t know about you, but that’s one of the mental prods that’s necessary to get me to make an effort in finishing the story. When I read all those cool events that I’ve yet to even reach in the current point of my book, I
grow excited. I want to see how these events will turn out. I wish to see what these events will lead to. And I need to see how these events will change by the time that I get to them.
Imagine a racer, and this racer has been going head to toe with another that has been able to match his speed. They continue to be in a tie for most of the lap, but then the first racer notices the white banner that marks out the finish line. Despite being overexerted and feeling like he was about to drop out in that one moment, the sight of the finish line rejuvenated the hope that he had in winning the race. And as a result, the racer was able to speed past his rival the moment he laid eyes upon the race’s end.
And my advice to all of you is that you think of all those cool moments in your outline as being the white banner that denotes the end of your writing race. When we see that awesome fight scene written in the outline, our minds will just never shut up about it. It’ll keep nagging us with random tidbits of description that you plan on using for the event, it will bombard us with images of our characters in a struggle for life, and it will get your fingers typing that much faster. So to those of you that use outlines, take some time to examine it. Take some time to look at those events, and just visualize how they’ll turn out.
As always, this has been the QuestingAuthor. Keep writing, my friends.