1. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Am I Wasting Time?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Scarecrow28, Nov 9, 2008.

    I've got maybe 3/5 or a little less of my novel done and I had this whole section perfectly planned out in my head. The remaining section of the novel is a little vague and I've just been making it up as I go. I decided that I should get a better idea of what exactly is going to happen, so I've been writing a mini-outline. I've already spent three days working on it. Should I spend two days more to finish it or should I just build upon my basic ideas as I go? What do you prefer to do in this kind of situation? Thanks!
     
  2. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Anything that can contribute to your writing isn't a waste of time. If the outline has given you enough ideas to finish the story, then it has fulfilled its purpose; otherwise, there's no harm in finishing it.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know about an outline. I never use one. However, if your story just seems to float adrift in a Sargasso of tangled plotlines, examine the forces that move events in that part of the story. You may need to amp up those forces to drive the characters and the story forward.

    Remeber, the forces that drive a plot are goals and needs vs. barriers and conflicts.
     
  4. Emerald
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    Emerald Contributing Member

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    I tend to plan things out meticulously -- 'cause I think about what I'm writing whenever I'm not writing it -- but when I actually sit down and write it, I rarely follow the outline...
     
  5. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Here is what has helped me write the middle of long stories. It has always been the most difficult part for me to write, but when I use the following technique it is much easier.

    Keep these things in mind:

    The MC’s desire, which is her goal. In saving Private Ryan, his desire (goal) in the story was to bring back Private Ryan. That desire drives the whole story, as it should.

    Keep the theme in mind. That is the moral lesson the audience or MC learns when the MC obtains, or fails to obtain, her goal. It usually has to do with the MC overcoming or coming to grips with her weakness.

    If you know the ending, if you know the MC’s desire (goal), and if she reaches it or not, if you know her weakness and what she learns in the end, or what the audience learns, then you know exactly where the story is going. Each scene you write should prepare the theme, and bring the MC closer to the goal, at the same time putting her through more and more crap before she gets there.

    I hope this helps. It has helped me. An excellent book that goes into great detail with this sort of thing is called, The Anatomy of Story. This book has helped me write stories easier. It has helped me write stronger stories, and the more I use the wisdom I gained from it, the better they get. It has also helped me understand what elements made successful stories successful.
     
  6. Soul2377
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    Soul2377 New Member

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    It isn't a waste of time to write an outline, but I think it would be better to finish the plot. The plot is much more important than the outline.
    In fact, I never used an outline except once. And it didn't make a huge difference because I already know how my characters like and I know the plot and that's what outlines do.
     
  7. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I only outline when I'm REALLY stuck and am getting near the end of a story, to make sure I not only include all the important scenes still remaining, but to also make sure they connect in a meaningful manner. Otherwise I make it up as I go along.

    If you feel confused/stuck and really need to outline, go ahead. If you feel you've outlined enough and don't need to do the whole thing, then go with what you've got and figure the rest out when you get there.

    If you choose the latter and you end up getting stuck or confused again, you can always resume outlining when you need to. Whatever works. *shrug*
     
  8. Ommonite
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    Ommonite Senior Member

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    My old friend, did you not ask whether Outlining was a good idea in the first place? Maybe that was somone else, I don't know It's been a while.

    Anyway, as I've always believed, a two page outline is enough for a normal novel, even an 1100 page one like Lord of the Rings constitutes nothing more than "They get through the mines, Gandalf dies." you don't need to elaborate on the entire events of the bridge and fighting the orcs. save that for the novel itself, where you flesh things out along the way.
     
  9. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    I went a little bit overboard by writing around seven pages, but the only reason that happened was I knew exactly how the first chunk of the book was going to go so I really clearly wrote out what would happen. But the section of the outline dedicated to whats happening in the remainder of the novel was pretty brief and just kind of told sort of what happens, but I purposefully left room for elaboration and modification.
     
  10. Mike Nemesis
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    Mike Nemesis Active Member

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    I don't think theres anything wrong with having an outline but don't spend to much time dedicated to it. I find i tend to start writing and as i go along i end up getitng to know my character better and end up going back to what I've already written and changing it to how i feel is more fitting given my new grasp on the character but if your 3/5 of the way through i assume you will already know the characters pretty well.
     
  11. CommonGoods
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    CommonGoods Senior Member

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    If I where you, I would finish that outline of yours. Two days isn't that much, considering the amount of time you've already put in it (3 days), and you will eventualy save time because you know what to write. Noting don basic ideas is always a good plan.

    I myself, however, tend to "just write"; I do write down what I am going to write, but very briefly, about 3 or 4 sentences. Then again, this probably only works 'cause I write short stories and poems, which need a lot less guidance and plotting.
     
  12. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Yeah, I finished the outline a few days ago and it really didn't take away the much time. If anything, it got me more excited about the story and I just wrote 5,000-6,000 words in the last 24 hours, so I'd say it was worth it.
     
  13. Faithch
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    Faithch New Member

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    Ask yourself these questions:

    1. Is there a conflict?
    2. Is the conflict trying to be resolved?
    3. Have you had a climax?
    4. Does the flow of the novel make sense?
    5. Does the end match with the beginning? (either big things like if you're using realistic fiction, that someone doesn't pull out a superpower in the end, or little things like the main character's mom was killed in a car accident so make sure the end doesn't mention her dying of a disease)

    Once you finish your novel if it makes sense, then it's good. You might want to get a friend that would be likely to tell you if your book is boring.
     

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