Thursday, August 14, 2008

Into the Woods...Part 2

Man, I hate the book proposal stage. It's so mushy! My writer friend in the woods with me today is in the final throes of her manuscript, and I have manuscript envy over here.

Thanks for those comments on my previous post (anniegirl, Renee) -- you gave me a push to give the outline thing a try today. And I have to say, it seemed far less anxiety inducing to work on an outline than it did to face a blank screen and start pushing words around on the page. Which is what I generally do, and which ends up taking me AGES.

As for my next steps, I like Renee's approach, which she describes as follows:
The key thing about that outline for me is that I use the outline to make a VERY detailed To-Do list. That is the list that I then work from in completing the work -- items on it might be as difficult/conceptual as "Restructure introduction to add in the literature on social movements...." or as simple as "Add citation to McClurg and Mueller..."

At the end of any work period, I decide on two or three things on the to-do list that I will work on the next day/work period -- so I can percolate on the conceptual tasks I've set for myself, and then I warm up on the work by doing the easier/simpler tasks.
I'm gonna give it a try. Anyone got an answer to Renee's question (see comments, previous post), about deviating from the outline once you've got it? How strictly do you outliners out there hold yourselves to it? Inquiring minds wanna know :)


Anonymous said...

The last scholarly like thing I wrote was my master thesis two years ago. I had a very board outline but if an ah-ha moment of genius struck - I went totally with it.

Never fear the lure of the open page. An outline is meant as a guide. It's not your master.

In fiction my characters sometimes gain control and I find this a bit annoying but I go with it even though it causes me a bit of rewrite (or a whole lot of it). Right now a minor character has suddenly grown and my novella is threatening to become a novel without my whole hearted consent. It's freaking me out a bit, but these things will happen.

Great tips from Renee. Thanks!

Deborah Siegel said...

I love hearing about how fiction writers do it, Annie -- there are definitely parallels, and as a nonfiction writer seeking always to enliven my narrative, I have much to learn. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

smilla's simple life said...

I sent a friend of mine over here to read these posts, because she is working on revisions. She didn't post a comment here, but responded to me -- that she outlines and does a to-do list much like me -- but she calls it a Road Map, which conceptually helps her to feel more free to deviate, to take an alternate route, to pause longer, etc (all driving metaphors apply here...)

Marjorie said...

Hi, Deborah!

I have a pretty good outline on my novel, but I deviate like crazy. However, the outline does provide me with some basic structure, as well as an idea of where the book will eventually go. Although the chapters I've completed in the first draft don't necessarily conform with what's on the outline, they do still follow the basic storyline I envisioned. Does that make sense?