Rachel Thompson

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dermot Davis – How to Write by the Seat of Your Pants: Outline or No?

How to Write by the Seat of Your Pants: Outline or No?

by Dermot Davis

Whereas most writers I know favor one form of writing preparation to another, I tend to differ my approach each time, depending on the project. If I was to do a quick survey of writers I know, however, most, if not all would tell me that they definitely – will always – outline a story before they begin to write the first line of the story. To write without outline, some will tell me, is akin to flying in the dark without radar or any navigable aids to assist you. Not only have you no idea where you are heading – and hence, you could end up anywhere – but you also, just might crash!

Whereas I agree that crashing (presumably, getting so stuck in the story that it becomes impossible to complete) does not sound like a good thing, ending up somewhere that you never intended to go may not be such a bad thing, at all. In fact, it may turn out to be a very good thing. Ending up in some place that you never knew even existed could be downright magical!

Admittedly, sometimes I may just be just being lazy by not outlining a story before I begin and in fairness, I find a lot of pre-preparation of writing a book to be downright boring but that doesn’t take away from extolling the virtues of not outlining a story before you begin to write, proper. Many authors I know will “beat outline” a story in depth and write full biographies of each of the characters that inhabit the story, perhaps even including where they went to kindergarten and what their favorite color is. The beat outline chronicles every scene and twist and turn in the story, right down to length of scene or set piece and covers how each character will change and grow, resulting in their overall “arc” or their final growth resolution.

Whereas I may not go into such detail before every project, I have deeply outlined a story in great detail. Doing so, to me, feels like telling a story with a safety harness attached. It gives a great sense of purpose and direction to the writing and I know that if at any point of the way I may get stuck, I simply study my outline again and I’m back on track. Another wonderful feature of the detailed outline is the fact that you know whether the story you’re going to write works, before you even write it. That’s worth the price of admission, right there. In fact, by outlining the story before you begin is almost like doing the hard work; doing all the heavy lifting first so that the actual writing of the story becomes a breeze. You’ve already figured out the kinks and problems with plot, so you know you’re not wasting any time by writing yourself into any troublesome corners that you can’t get yourself out of.

Writing without an outline – or working with only a very general outline – is a different form of writing that I reserve to the stories that I only have a loose idea about and I want to explore them while I’m writing it. Sometimes I like to surprise myself and in the act of writing itself, I surprise myself often. Many writers have expressed that sometimes the story “writes itself” or characters become almost real and seem to generate their own ideas about where they think the story ought to go. Whereas I might describe outlining as “imposing” personality traits and motives upon my characters, when writing them without outline, they can “come alive” and tell me what their motives are and seem to develop personality traits, all of their own.

In this form of writing, yes, very much you are writing by the seat of your pants and just like the opening analogy of the airplane pilot, you could end up somewhere you didn’t even know you were headed. I have to admonish that writing without outline is a risky proposition and like most risky propositions, you could end up lucky or just plain broke. I have written stories in this way that turned out magical and beyond my own initial creative impulses but I have also ended up with unusable stories that have so much problems with them, it’s not worth my investment in time to fix them and they end up in the proverbial bottom drawer.

How do you decide to outline first or not outline? I would suggest trying it both ways and seeing where your aptitude lies. Only you can answer for sure if flying by the seat of the pants is a worthwhile thrill ride for you. Or not.

Stormy Weather

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre - Literary Fiction

Rating – PG

More details about the author and the book

Connect with Dermot Davis on Facebook, Twitter & Goodreads

Website www.dermotdavis.com

How You Leave Texas by Alana Cash


                                       Camille’s 40th birthday was on a Friday. She got her hair trimmed the night before, still preferring to keep it waist-length over Walker’s objections, although he did like it when she wove it in a bun on the nape of her neck like a flamenco dancer. She treated herself to a pedicure at the Asian nail place in a strip mall on Highway 290, skipping the manicure since she thought she had man hands and never wanted to attract attention to them. She went to Highland Mall to buy a new summer dress and a pair of Betsy Johnson sandals that would show off her red toenails.

Camille didn’t like the idea of turning forty. There was no more pretending that she was not an adult. And her life had become too quiet, although she had never been one of those loud women who scream at sporting events or shout across the bar to their friends. Never been the life of the party. Not that Camille was dull, but she’d become a little too steady. She had worked for exactly two companies in her whole life. The art store during college and the job with the mortgage company after that. She had told herself that her job as a bookkeeper was in the meantime, and as soon as she could afford to quit – when the house was paid off or Walker’s business got stabilized – she’d get back to painting.

Walker was the only person Camille had ever had sex with. Their affair started in college, carried on through his years in law school, then they got married, and the sex tapered off. Walker was a bankruptcy attorney, and lately his business was booming, so they were talking about investing in foreclosed commercial property and planned to attend their first real estate auction on Monday.

Walker got home late that Thursday night and brought client files with him. He didn’t notice her hair or her toenails or how much it bothered her to turn forty. Walker just wanted to have dinner in his home office so he could get his work done. While he was eating with the door closed, Camille searched around the house for her birthday gift – every closet and drawer and even the glove box, trunk, and under the seats of his car. When she found nothing, she told herself that he could not possibly have forgotten.

The next morning, Walker was in a rush, and told her, “I’ve got to get these papers filed this morning before meeting a new client.”

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre –  Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Alana Cash on her

Blog http://howyoulovetexas.blogspot.com/