What Outline?

by syaffolee

The idea for this year’s Maynowrimo project began as bits and pieces from other projects I was mulling over at the end of April.  It didn’t really become a coherent idea until I went to the library to check out a guidebook on Venice (published in 1993, so it is woefully out of date–but who really cares, since I’m setting the story in 1880).  Basically, the only research I’m using is that guidebook, Wikipedia, Google Maps, and a naming website called Behind the Names.  In other words, the locations are real, the people and situations are not.

I am also writing without an outline, so we’ll see how that goes (or not).  This is due in part to my last minute decision to write this.  It’s also a reaction against the hefty outlines I keep reading about from other writers.  Sure, every writer has their own method that works for them.  It’s one thing to have a two or three page outline.  But I’m beginning to think that 100,000 word outlines are counterproductive.  I mean, that’s as big as a book itself!  Wouldn’t it be more efficient and worthwhile to spend your time actually writing the story?

Anyways, the freedom of writing without the outline is that I get all sorts of ideas while I’m writing and I get to think–Hey, that’s pretty interesting.  Maybe I can incorporate it somehow.  At this point in the draft, it’s everything and the kitchen sink.  The cutting will be during editing when I’m not so worried about the word count.

The most difficult thing I find about beginning this project is in introducing the characters and setting.  Unlike some other writers who have characters dancing in their heads for years or have done extensive character backgrounds and pre-writing, I do very little delving into the psyche of my characters before I do the actual writing.  The best I can describe it is awkwardness, the same kind of awkwardness that you feel when you’re introduced to a new person in real life.  So in the first few chapters, I’m kind of like a reader looking from the outside in.  It probably won’t be until a few more chapters in when I become more comfortable with the characters and settings that the words will come a little easier.