Outline It Now…or Chalk Outline It Later

Day 532 – Endless words followed by a sea of blank pages.  They stare at me.  Taunting, telling me that I need to write more. This. Never. Ends.

It’s actually Day 4.  But it’s Day 4 of outline revisions, so it feels like it’s been forever.  Anyone familiar with writing understands that outlining is brutal.  You’re not just trying to figure out how the puzzle pieces fit, you’re also creating the pieces while not knowing exactly what the final picture looks like.

But this stage is so damn important.  The most beautiful prose in the world ain’t gonna fix a terrible plot.  (I’m mainly typing this to inspire myself because, in all honesty, this phase blows.)

The challenge is to merge:

a) Structure

b) Character Development

c) Logic

d) Originality


e) Something F*cking Interesting

There are or course a plethora of sub-sections to consider (set pieces, etc), but if any of these five things don’t work through the entire story, the outline’s not ready.  I’ve still made an immense amount of discoveries while writing, but I think of it this way: the outline is the strong, firm architecture on which everything else is built.  The stronger the architecture, the more you’re hedging your bets that the house will be half-way decent.  The house should only get better from here, not worse.

It’s also a lot easier to see where the story doesn’t work (and why) when looking at a 12 page outline as opposed to a 500 page manuscript.  Easier to revise too.

So…with that said, I will attempt to dive back in.  Yes, I’m procrastinating.  But it’s only because I love you.  And not because I don’t want to work.  No, really.


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