Ideas for stories can appear fully formed or as small seeds which need nourishment, and we either take hold of them or let them go. Once the inventive wheels are turning, planning can provide a structured focus which frees you up to start writing. If you do decide to plan, your characters, setting, POV (point of view), backstory, dramatic arc, beginning and end of the story can be outlined in as much detail, or not, as you want.
When I have an idea for a new story, I mull it over in my mind till I know who my character is, where the story starts, where I want to take it and how I want it to end. Yet what often happens once I’ve started writing is that I reach a certain point - and like someone on a journey who’s following a map and arrives at a bridge which has collapsed, I can see the other side, I just don’t know how to get there. That’s when I stop, backtrack a bit and plan, because by now I know my characters etc., but what I need to know is exactly how I’m going to reach my destination.
Now this works for me. It may not work for you. I would say the single most important thing about planning an outline is that you don’t have to stick to it. If it isn’t working, chuck it out and write another one; chuck it out and just write letting the characters and story reveal themselves along the way - which I find happens anyway even when writing with an outline.
Writing is a process which brings ideas to life through the creation of characters and events. How to accomplish this isn’t set in concrete. No creative process can be reduced to an all encompassing formula. As Marian Allen said 'Whatever works!'
P.S.This was written as a response to one by Steve Imagineer on July 13th titled 'Rethink Advice to Writers' (see below - Useful Links). My original idea was to write about why writers should use outlines, but after reading the article and the comments from those who responded, I decided to write a different post!
Currently I’m deep in the throes of fixing my embarrassingly long list of overused words. Although I have to admit, despite the length of the list, it’s a good way to go through a novel. When replacing a word I have to look closely at what I’m trying to say, and I’ve found sometimes a phrase rather than a single word works better - as it not only clarifies but expands on the meaning. The one exception so far is the word ‘again’ for which, in the majority of cases, the delete button was the most effective remedy. I may be in this valley of woes for a while...
sparkles bounce off glass windows –
I like my warm skin
Read Steve's post at: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2013/07/13/rethink-advice-to-writers/
http://amzn.to/197yrbN Roads Taken (5 great short stories) by M. Joaquim
http://amzn.to/18SbSaG Gold Dragon Haiku - my first attempt at publishing poetry!
Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.