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Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday's Muse~Fight Or Flight

This picture seemed so appropriate for the last chapter of my novel that I could hardly wait to use it! Finally, last week I was able to as I closed in on The End of my rough draft. It came together beautifully. My characters surprised me a little but in good ways. Even though I write an outline I allow the story to grow organically based on where the characters take it. Now comes the part I like best, editing. No, I'm not crazy (well okay, maybe a little). I think I figured out why I love editing so much.

For those who don't know, I'm an outliner. A lot of the kinks, character arcs, plot twists, and subplots are all worked out before I even write the first page. I also write chapter by chapter so there isn't much to flesh out later. I end up cutting more than I add. This makes the editing process a lot easier and a lot faster. I didn't always outline though. I was a pantser (write by the seat of your pants) once and back then it took me 7-12 months to complete and edit a novel. Now I have the process so refined that it takes me 4-6 months to write and edit a novel. The numbers are enough to convince me never to go back to my old ways.

However, I don't believe everyone should be an outliner instead of a pantser. You have to find what works for you, what inspires you, and do it. It's all about keeping your muse fed so they keep the inspiration flowing!

30 comments:

  1. Yay, Heather! Way to go--I'm so happy for you for finishing.

    I have recently tried outlining after a lifetime of pantsing. What technique do you follow?

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  2. Thanks Angela! *dances around in confetti* I use the roman numeral method, or an altered version of it actually. I list each chapter and the points I want to cover in it.

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  3. Thanks for the great Muse today. I'm feeling the flight option right now.
    And I, too, am an outliner for sure. I seriously think that those billions of people who say they want to write a book... don't, because they don't know how to get it out. It's too hard. To time consuming. If they just outlined and threw it together, then spent time crafting it, they could do it.
    I say... do what works. This works great for you and has helped me a ton. Thank you!!!

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  4. Huge congratulations on finishing your first draft! And on honing your technique to this amazing level. Reading that is enough to inspire me to try harder to make my outlines more complete before I begin writing. 4-6 months? Wow.

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  5. Karlene, great point! It can be tough getting the book out. Outlining helps me do that too!

    Linda, thank you so much! Whoo hoo! Work hard on those outlines and no doubt you'll be catching up to me soon!

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  6. Congrats! I think you have an excellent work ethic and process. I envy you. I have to catch the moments between my child, work and classwork to write, so I write whatever inspires me at that moment, but I keep the characters alive in my head for months on end, I call it "percolating". This week, as I am sick as a dog with a horrible throat infection, the only things I could write were angry/angsty/needy scenes after a funeral. Sigh.

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  7. Thank you Elaine! Your method must make for some really powerful chapters! That's a great way to pour emotion into your work. I love it!

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  8. Congratulations on finishing the last chapter. You've lived with them for so long that seem part of your family, don't they?

    I think the true test of outlining versus winging it is in the finished novel. If the novel reads well using your method of choice, then stay with it.

    Dean Koontz is a wing it kind of writer. And he swears by it, but to me, his lack of planning robs his novel of the depth that plot threads could addd. But it is all a matter of subjective choice. Have a great week, Roland

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  9. They really do Roland! You make a great point. You have to do what works for you and your writing. Now that you mention that about Koontz I have to agree with you. A few of his novels could have really benefited from outlining. But who am I to judge him?! LOL!

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  10. It's funny how it works differently for each person, but you're right you have to find what that magic formula is for you. I'm a pantser all the way!

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  11. Congrats on finishing your first draft! Such a great feeling, isn't it?

    I'm starting to do my outlining than I used to as well, but I still want to leave enough room to be surprised along the way.

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  12. Lisa, so true! I love that you're a panster. I'm kinda jealous in fact. ;)

    Elle, thank you! It really is! Yes, we must leave room for surprises. Those are the best part!

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  13. Congrats on your last chapter! I'm an outliner too, but do a little pansting of scenes here and there. That way I get a chance to let the MS or characters come up with their own stuff.
    :)

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  14. Hi, Heather,

    Congrats on finishing you first draft! I am THRILLED for you. I totally get how you fell when it comes to editing. My first novel was an editing nightmare, I'm still working on the last edit. But my second novel had only a few edits so far, and I might need a few more for fine tuning. What a pleasure this is To only go through my novel five or six times as opposed to dozens.

    Have fun with your edits.

    Michael

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  15. Congratulations on finishing your chapter! :)

    I usually end up pantsing through the beginning of a new novel, and then writing the outline once I've got a more concrete idea--that way I get to write with the original inspiration and get motivated again once I've written the outline. At least, that's the way it works most of the time.

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  16. Lydia, thank you! A mixture sounds like the perfect way to do it!

    Michael, thank you so much! So true, it is easier and a lot less stressful to go through it half the amount of times!

    Golden Eagle, that's an interesting way to do it. I like that!

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  17. Oh now that I look at that picture I can totally imagine the type of ms you're writing! And can't wait to see it in print! :D
    And isn't it awesome when characters surprise you a little bit? ;)

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  18. Congrats on finishing your draft! I'm a plotter too. I can't imagine NOT plotting everything. :)

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  19. Monica, thank you so much! This one is dark and powerful. The ending made me cry. I hope that power comes through in the writing!

    Ghenet, thank you for thw congrats. I know exactly what you mean about plotting, me too!

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  20. Congrats on finishing your draft. I'm just trying outlining for the first time. I'll have to see if it helps me move along quicker.

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  21. congrats on the finish! i'm still a bit of both (outliner and pantser). i think i'd be much faster if i outlined more. great point. i don't enjoy outlining, but i can see that it would save tons of painful brainwork while in the process of writing (eliminate writer's block) and excessive plot and plot holes later on. christy

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  22. Natalie, thank you! Best of luck with your outlining. I hope it helps!

    Christy, thanks! Yes, outlining definitely helps a lot with writer's block!

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  23. Oh, I love outlining too. Sometimes I used a detailed outline, sometimes just a one pager. I think you are right though, the more you outline the more time it can save you.

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  24. I'm definitely an outliner. Like you, I like to leave a little room for the story to grow, but I usually manage to finish a first draft with my plot and pacing more or less intact. Definitely saves time!

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  25. That is so awesome!

    I'm a panster learning to outline. Fun days! :P

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  26. I'm in a huge funk right now. And then I read this and all doesn't seem so bad. Some wonderful points made herein.

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  27. I used to be a pantser too. Never again. Okay, well I don't do heavy preplanning, but I do some, and it makes all the difference. I love revision. It's when the story really comes together for me.

    I'm so happy you finished your draft, Heather! Congratulations! Good luck with your revision!

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  28. I'm an outliner too and I still end up adding more than cutting when I go through revisions. I tend to be detail-light. Way to go on finishing!!!

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  29. Margo, I like the idea of mixing it up. Each novel is different and sometimes a different approach is called for.

    Amie, yay a fellow outliner! It really does help, so true.

    Dawn, that's excellent. I hope you enjoy the process and that it works out well for you.

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  30. Dean, thank you. I'm so glad my post could help!

    Carol, thanks! Yay, me too! A little pre-planning can go a long way. I know how you feel though, once I was forced to start outlining I saw a whole new world and I'll never go back.

    Nisa, that is a great method too! It works for a lot of people. Glad to hear it works for you too!

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