Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Outlines - 712 words

At the day job, today was Red Tape Day. Everyone seemed tangled in it. (And we still have some to deal with tomorrow.)

So I relaxed a bit this evening by talking about point of view on the Crimespace forums, and then sat down and started doing a narrative breakdown of the Serial. Like a very detailed synopsis. The kind with suggestions of language, but mostly story beats:

"It's an early morning, with sliver fog and dew. The suffragettes are gathering. Lily arrives with a carpet bag. She sees the wealthier ladies with their servants. Paulina is chic in her short dress, and she has a maid finishing up a protest sash that goes perfectly with her dress and hat. (Cousin 2 and the other swains are in the background, but will be introduced in a minute.)

"Mrs. Fogwindle has two footmen with picnic baskets - sandwiches for the ladies. Lily is starving, and is focussed on the baskets, even though she also wryly notices what a posh protest it will be...."

This kind of outline really works in the place of exploratory writing. You get the feel of the jokes and details and relationships, but you can rip through a lot more story while it's fresh in your head. When you sit down to write from this sort of outline, it's a lot easier because it's almost like rewriting. The actual vibe of the story is there. And it can be easier to weave in clues and things after you've beat out more of the story.

It's also very much like screenwriting - you hit the most important images, reactions and movements. (The difference is that you don't put in all the dialog, just the most interesting turns.)

I do want to get back to my series on supporting police characters a bit more, but I'm sleepy, and I'm glad to have done a lot of work.


Anonymous said...

Camille - I like the idea of outlining, too. It does help keep the story organized, and keeps the "flow" coming quickly. When you can work from an outline or frame, it's easier to fill in the rest, so to speak.

The Daring Novelist said...

I think when most people have a problem with outlining, it's because they do it logically, like a school outline. That kills creativity.

But if you write it like you're actually writing, telling a story, it works better.