A pile of paper in disarray

I’m plotting out my current story. It’s an unholy mess. The paper outline, that is. The story makes more sense.

i have scraps of paper everywhere.jpg
Did you notice the swoopy desk the paper is lying on? I love my swoopy desk.

I’m just finishing up the James Patterson Masterclass. And no, I wouldn’t recommend it. I was swayed by a review that said it was worth it for the section on outlining alone. The section on outlining comprises the following:

Outlining: Do it.

Soooo, yeah. I’ve gotten a lot more out of Take Off Your Pants or Outlining Your Novel. But Patterson did say he writes in-depth 6-page outlines, and this time I’m attempting to do the same.

This is self-preservation, really. Last year Char nearly killed me. I have 100,000 words of excisions stored in a file. I wrote the damn thing three times with three different endings and it’s still not right. There’s a reason it’s only available as a freebie read on the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s website and not on Amazon or Smashwords.

This is the first time I’ve outlined a story in such detail. I get so excited about a story that I want to start. I have characters in my head nudging me with their bony elbows and giving me their lines of dialogue, and I need to put it down on paper before the recollection fades. I always know how a story will end. That’s the first thing I learn about a story. And I know how it starts. I know the plot. But I don’t always *coughevercough* have the fine detail nailed down. Like all the scenes. Or how they will link together. Or exactly how I get from the beginning to the climax. And I screwed up so bad with Char, I nearly quit writing. I still feel such despair about fucking up. I’m going to return to that eventually and fix it. I can’t live with myself if I don’t.

So this time I’m outlining every scene, pulling it all together, nailing down the tone, the emotion I want each scene to convey, trying to add more suspense, more excitement, more to hook the reader from one chapter to the next. It should be possible to read the outline through and have it flow like a complete – if abridged – story. It’s taking so much longer than I anticipated, but I’m assuming this will help me cut down considerably on composition? I hope?

And paper helps. I don’t know why. I have a bunch of digital tools I can use too; Scapple – which I adore – Scrivener of course, even just a herd of  Ant Notes clustered on my desktop helps sometimes. But there’s something about being able to see the whole thing laid out in front of me that achieves more than looking through a window onto a small section of a neatly arranged digital storyboard.

So far it’s working for me, although there’s no way of knowing for sure until I finish the story. Eventually, I guess, you guys will tell me if it worked. Wish me luck.

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