“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.” – Somerset Maugham
So a writer gets an idea in his or her head and the long journey starts. I must admit I find the process an adrenaline rush and yet daunting at the same time. With an idea, there must be enough content to not just fill those pages, but also to provide readers with a book they want to finish.
For my first published novel, I just jumped in and figured out timing, characters, and the story as I went along. Comments from the readers have been ‘we didn’t know what was coming next.’ The characters led my story and the readers were along the ride. That said, I ended up having to do multiple rewrites and movements of entire sections of the book. While this was part of the editing process, I wondered if I would be able to keep that same wonder for the writer and the reader but still be able to have some kind of outline to follow and cut down on editing. An outline that would lay out all the important details, plot, characters, and themes.
I hesitate because I find myself wondering if the outline will stifle my creativity. The New York Book Editors website argues against an outline. They explain, “planning your novel ahead of time increases its likelihood of being dead on arrival.”
That is a terrible outcome for a new novel, so I went on a search to find some advice on a way to organize my writing, while still allowing me the freedom to create and let myself write. Lit Reactor had eight methods to try.
My two favorites methods, which I plan to try, are ‘The Skeletal Outline’ and ‘Free Writing.’ I feel those will provide me the framework of an overview of the journey my story and characters will take, but will allow me the flexibility to let the story develop naturally.