1. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    advice on outlining

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TwinPanther13, Aug 1, 2008.

    hey I have finished my first short story that I plan on submitting for publication for profit. I have been proofing it and have come to realize that some changes need to be made.

    Now I had this story very clear in my head but some things are still a little disjointed because of the amount of time it took between writting sessions. I had two full time jobs for a while and finding time to write was hard with months passing sometime.

    I was thinking that I should outline my next story but wonmdered how to do that. Should I do it on a chapter by chapter basis or maybe just a general guide of what i want to happen in the story. How geeral can you be and maintain a coherent story.

    I am wondering cause some stories are very clear while some are vague and new more time to develop. Also when writting a novel I am very sure an outline will help stay on the right path. my 17, 000 word short story is a far cry from a 100.000 word novel, and like I said that was disjointed.

    Just looking for opinions and advice
     
  2. mdf92
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    mdf92 New Member

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    Hmm.. It really depends on how you want to outline it... If you want everything planned out before hand then I would probably plan it out chapter by chapter. If you want some freedom while writing it then I'd do a general plan...
     
  3. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    Pretty much ditto the above...

    It depends on your style as a writer. You could sit down and plan what you want to go into every single paragraph, if you think it would help, or you could just sit down and start writing, letting plot, characters and themes develope as you go. I think it's going to be pretty hard for someone to tell you how to do it, as it might not work for you.

    I dont plan at all, which is probably as general as you can get! My stories seem to be coherent. Probably.

    It's very lame ending I know, but do what you feel you need. When you feel like you've done enough planning then start writing it.
     
  4. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    What are you looking to say in your strory? What theme are you trying to cover? I tend to have a central theme evolving inside me before I consider putting pen to paper. For me, it gives my characters their initial shape and objective. I initially plot out a brief synopsis that incorporates a vague beginning, middle and end. A simple through-line. Nothing concrete, but substantial enough to get me going. When I begin writing, it's usually with an initial flurry, followed by a more rational rewrite. After the first couple of chapters; having a better idea what I'm about, I start plotting in more detail. Again, what works for one, mightn't do another. No harm, anyway, just getting into it. The way I see it, writing is about making mistakes and learning from the process of rectification. Good luck with your writing.
     
  5. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    I come up with a general beginning and end, and then just write, letting my characters shape the story. Now, my ending has completely changed from my original plan. So my final word is, some writers don't use outlines at all, we just let it write itself, so to speak.
     
  6. Flozzie
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    Flozzie Active Member

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    I totally agree. And I also think it's something that you as an indivitual writer has to figure out what works best for you=)

    For me, the outline I do is of course deciding what I want to happen in my story/novel. Then depending on how many ideas I have I write them down, as well as whole scenes I might already have decided on. And I let my imagination do the rest.
     
  7. Chef Dave
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    Chef Dave Member

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    My characters have hijacked my story. Everything had been carefully plotted out but as my characters developed personality, their internal group dynamics took the story into uncharted territory.

    I am now going with the flow but am keeping a specific ending as a goal.
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    TwinPanther13,

    First, your 17,000 word story falls far beyond the normal short story range. In general most markets consider 10,000 words the upper limit. At 17,000 words, it falls in the novella range. This is important for when you work out the disjointed issues and begin seeking markets where you might submit it to.

    As far as outlining, you will get answers all over the board whether it should be done, whether it is necessary, and if a work is outlined prior to writing, to what extent/depth.

    I think when beginning a novel length project you should have an idea of the beginning (where the action starts) and the end, although by the time you get there, you may very well alter it a bit.

    Then, list in chronological order, some of the major plot points or major events in the storyline. When writing, these 'mile markers' will give you a direction or something to write toward. It will keep you from going off on tangents. Sure there may be events and actions that veer off course, and that is find. An outline is not written in stone.

    One of the benefits is that the outline will not only help keep the story on course, but it will help in the second and following drafts where you seek to repair any plot holes or tie up loose plotlines, along with the regular grammar, pacing, and minor wording issues, etc. It will save time through requiring less revsion and patchwork...and then smoothing out the ripple-like issues that carry through the novel which occur from the 'fixes'.

    For me, it helps me keep focused over the months that it takes to hammer out a first draft. It enables me to better work on dialogue, sequences of events, cause and effect links, etc. in my head while driving or doing mundane tasks such as mowing or walking to the post office.

    Terry
     
  9. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    well this short story is for a contest that allows up to 17, 000 words. it was hard to condense my short story to that but I was finally able to. I will remember the tips all have given
     
  10. Miss Kasia
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    Miss Kasia New Member

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    I am a big fan of the straightforward timeline. I found that my writing suffered when I did chapter-by-chapter outlines, and knowing how each chapter began and ended took all the fun out of it for me. Going in with no outline, though, is scary.

    Listing everything that happens day-by-day has worked well for me-- though you have a rough plan of what happens, you're free to start and end chapters where it feels natural to do so, not where you told yourself you would. And if you're accidentally falling into a chapter-a-day pattern, it's easy to catch yourself. It's good for reference, too.
     

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