Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Novel Quest 6: To Outline or Not to Outline?







The Truth about Outlining Novels and the Pansters Revenge


Outlining a novel can be great, but if it is not your thing, don't sweat it. Some must outline each and every aspect of a novel. I am a little more fluid, though I am organized. A solid compendium and knowing where my characters are stories are going is my solid base.

I do a couple pages on what the story is and main characters. I work from there. There is no set rule. I generally have a firm grasp on word count and chapters. I tend to keep my novels between 95,000 and 100,000 words. I learned to hone the skill of writing 10 page chapters. This is just math, but it is crucial. You need a chapter to begin and end with interest. In the past, I used scene breaks, which works too. Often those scene changes can be set up in their own chapter, but it depends on length. A 10 page chapter framework helps you to figure out your characters challenges and threats to your hero/heroine. I have my character and world charts, with rich details on world and characters so fully developed, they write themselves. I have my tale...but I do not do a typical outline.

Keep in mind my process does not give me grief. My story is fully worked out on paper and in my head keeps it flowing. Some minor changes may occur, a shift in direction or character focus, but they always turn out to be for the better. Nothing is set in stone during the process.

I do know how each book I write will end. I know who survives, who doesn't. As an author, if you write regularly and work at it, will develop a process right for you. Go with that. And no, I do not write my the seat of my pants....I am not a panster (I read that in a blog on outlining).  It is a quaint term for authors who do not outline, but write by the seat of their pants. I know where I am going and what will happen. My process and creative flow are my own.

If you feel you need to officially outline your novel, do it! There are tons of guides online on how to do that. If not, develop a system for you that works.

Until then, write more fantasy!

Verna McKinnon