Hello readers and fellow Wicked Writers. After last week’s beautiful stories honoring heroes and remembering lives lost on 9/11, it is apparently now time to get back into the business of writing. This week’s topic is: Setting realistic writing goals and outlining.
I can hear everyone groaning like a bunch of teenagers in an English Comp 101 class. Let me start by saying that I could probably spend all week enthusiastically talking about goals and outlines. So be happy I only get one post.
I’m going to leave goal setting for someone else to talk about so I can discuss my newest obsession. Outlining.
It baffles me that a lot of writers refuse to outline. They say things like “It hinders my creativity.” Um, excuse me? What? I have to disagree. Outlining may not give you brilliant ideas, compelling characters, or an amazing plot arc, but it doesn’t take those things away either. On the contrary, a good outline is like a snap-shot of your novel, so you can easily see where those elements need to be developed.
I’ll admit, when I first started writing I thought it was just a matter of sitting down and typing a story. Outlining seemed like an extra step that would take up my time. I’ve come a long way since then.
I think the reason so many writers turn the other check to outlining is because they don’t know how to go about it, and thus, they are afraid of it. There’s no reason to be. We’re not talking about query letters here. No one is going to read or judge your outline. You can write it however you want. It’s your ideas, organized in a fashion that allows you to find them, use them, and build off them, again and again, at any stage in the writing process.
And yeah, whether we like or not, outlining is essential to success, reduces stress, mistakes, and prevents wasted time. How many of you ever spent an hour searching through post-its and scrap paper for that brilliant idea you scribbled down in the middle of the night? Hmm. Too bad you didn’t jot it down in your outline, right in the exact scene you intended.
Since no one is going to see your outline besides you, you do have the option of making it really simplistic. A list of plot points, for example. However, I favor a more detailed outline, with character sketches, setting sketches, research notes, a plot summery, and ideas for scenes all ready to go – typed up and handy. Trust me when I say it makes life easier.
Like I said, I didn’t always use outlines. There was a time when they seemed taunting to me too. If you still cringe at the idea of outlining, there is a book I recommend that will help you get started. It’s called First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Wiesner. Just don’t be fooled by the title. You won’t have a first draft in 30 days, but you will have a constructive, detailed, and organized outline that’s almost good enough to be your first draft. Even more awesome than that, Wiesner teaches you how to revise your outline so you don’t have to revise your first draft. When done correctly, all you should have to do is edit and proofread.
Ahh, yes, outlines are beautiful.
Now for the CONTEST! It’s my turn to host this week’s contest, and I’ve put a lot of thought into this. *Insert wicked laugh here* I’m going to use this opportunity to do some shameless self-promotion. Please real ALL rules and instruction below:
J.D. BROWN’S SCAVENGER HUNT !!!!!!!
I’m hosting a scavenger hunt that runs from Monday, September 13th, 2010 at 9:00am Central time to Monday, September 27th, 2010 at 12:00am Central time.
How to enter and WIN:
1. Subscribe to the Wicked Writers blog, then leave a comment below with your first and last name and “I SUBSCRIBED TO WICKED WRITERS FOR THE SCAVENGER HUNT” somewhere in your comment.
2. Follow me on Twitter.com (http://twitter.com/authorjdbrown) , then send me a direct message on Twitter with your name and “I’M FOLLOWING YOU FOR THE SCAVENGER HUNT” in the message.
3. Go to my personal blog and follow OR subscribe to my blog. Then leave a comment on my blog with your name and “I’M FOLLOWING YOUR BLOG FOR THE SCAVENGER HUNT” in your comment.
4. Go to my website and sign the guest book (yes, you have to look for it). Include your name and “I’M SIGNING YOUR GUEST BOOK FOR THE SCAVENGER HUNT” in the message.
5. When you’re done with the above items, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your FIRST and LAST NAME and an EMAIL ADDRESS that I can reach you at. Make sure the subject of your email is “THE SCAVENGER HUNT_YOUR NAME”. For example – THE SCAVENGER HUNT_J.D.BROWN.
1. You must complete ALL five (5) of the above requirements. If you are missing one, you will be disqualified. I will email anyone who is missing an item, so long as I receive your email entry before the contest closes at 12:00 am central time on September 27th, 2010. Anyone missing an item after midnight on September 27th will not be notified and will be disqualified from the contest.
2. You must remain a follower on Wicked Writers, my Twitter, and my blog until after I have announced the winner (which will be on September 27th, 2010 at 9:00 central time).
You do not have to be active or continue to post comments other than the ones required for the contest and you are free to stop email subscriptions/unfollow me after I have announced the winner.
First place is a $25.00 Borders gift card!
Second place is a $10.00 Borders gift card!
Winners will be selected at random by my Pomeranians. Hopefully they won’t eat the prizes…