Thursday, May 28, 2009

Writing Without an Outline

I've found writing my latest attempt at a novel to be a strange experience. Not that I've tried my hand at many novels--short stories have been my forte so far--but when I have, it has been with an outline. This newest one, however, I just took an idea and ran with it. I sort of tricked myself into getting going on it. I've tried writing a novel without an outline before, but I always bog down, thinking I'm just going to mess things up for later since I don't know where anything is going. But this time I just told myself that it was a writing practice exercise, and it's seemed to work so far.

I write all my short stories without outlines. Almost every time I set out to write one, I just have a vague idea, and I make it happen. Occasionally I'll know exactly what's happening and where everything is going, but that's pretty rare. That's why I really wanted to write a novel without an outline. Novels and short stories are two different beasts, but I thought I could probably make it work. It's still a work in progress, but I'm pretty happy so far.

As I'm writing, I decided that I'd make a separate word file with revision ideas. I can see things that I'd rather do, but instead of stopping momentum by going back and fixing it right away, I can do so in the revision process when the first draft is done. I also have a file with about ten pages or so of a few scenes that were taking the story in the wrong direction. Instead of just erasing it all, I decided to save it in case I can fish out some good ideas from it during revision. I doubt I will, but why not keep it around just in case?

Writers work in many different ways. I'm still not certain how I'm going to go about writing the novel after this one. If this process continues going well, I may just write it from the seat of my pants again. I doubt I will write a full outline, as I find that my writing doesn't have any room to have fun to flesh out unknown parts of the story, but I my write a partial outline. I'll see what I decide to do when this project is done. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing!