A few weeks ago, I blogged about learning lessons from screenwriting for writing fiction. Then, a couple of days ago, someone pointed me to J.K. Rowling’s wonderful (if enigmatic) handwritten plot spreadsheets for The Order of the Phoenix.
I’ve been thinking for a while that I should start outlining my stories more. Maybe not short stories, but novels, certainly.
I’ve always told myself that I don’t work well with outlining, that my best stuff comes when I writing blind and in the moment. And to a degree that’s true. But I’m also more prone to hitting brick walls or having to backtrack, or just sitting there wondering where the hell the story should go next.
I think part of my reluctance is because I can get caught up in being a little too mechanistic, sometimes, in forcing my story in directions it shouldn’t go in order to fit a preconceived idea, and then having to do a lot of work to unpick it. I worry that outlining will make that worse.
But I don’t think it has to. Not if the outline has room for shift. And maybe if I do outline properly, I’ll solve those issues before I even come to them.
So, I’m going to try it, but I need your help! Or your recommendations at least. If you outline, do you have a particular method? What kind of things do you include or leave out? Can you recommend any particular books on outlining (screenwriting or novel writing, I don’t mind)?
I’d really appreciate any suggestions. Otherwise my whiteboard will remain empty for a very long time. ;)