|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
Do I Outline? Why or Why Not?
DO I! With my life, if it weren't for outlines I probably would wander off into the Mojave and never find my way back. I wish I were in a position to just sit at this desk and hammer my way through each project, devoting all the power of my singular brain cell to the task at hand, but I can't. I have my day job and classes and meetings and more classes and...You get it, right! So in order to keep everything I write in some small semblance of order and to prevent having the local constabulary at my door on a 'Keep the Peace' call because I can't find the notes for that section I thought I'd be working on five damned hours ago, I keep some pretty extensive records and outlines.
I have a tendency towards nuanced complexity, trying to achieve subtly that which, in some other works, is done with something less than art. I believe in my reader's ability to pick up on things and supply the sort of details that just clutter things up and slow the pace of what I strive for. I love subplots and minor characters who show up in staccato bursts, lending just enough of a flavor to hint at things to come. I have tried to do this by the 'seat of the pants' method and found myself having to constantly return to earlier portions of a work to add something that was needed to make the point I had gained tie in.
My present large project has an outline/scene list that runs to twenty three pages and is supplemented with character outlines (minor and major), physical setting notes, organizational notes for corporate and other entities, equipment, weapons, maps, regional colloquialisms, speculative possibilities...It can get pretty anal. But the beauty of this is that it frees me up as the work progresses to work on the fine points of character development, setting, mood and all the component parts without having to keep track of where the plot was supposed to heading (or just what does a Predator drone look like?). I have that in one neat package and, if it looks like the characters really want to go somewhere else, I can make the changes without having to worry about blowing the whole thing to pieces. It is an incredible load off my shoulders and leaves me the opportunity to really stretch what I'm accomplishing to new levels.
I do something of the same thing for my shorter fiction. But let's face it, with less ground to cover the form is much more simplified (sometimes as simple as a graph to give me a visual of story arch, where the major turning points and tensions are located and a very simple introduction of any minor characters along the way). Even here it frees me to concentrate on one of my favorite things, letting the characters tell their story. I love dialogue and the give and take my characters acquire as they develop. Not having to concentrate on the plot also is a definite stress reducer. Anyway, isn't this supposed to be something we take joy in? So why kick your own ass getting the story down? I say, if the tools are there, and they relieve the work load, then use them.
Of course this is just IMHO.
Accepting short fiction to 1200 words, poetry to 25 lines, and carefully crafted essays for the Your Work/Your Love page. Nope, still no pay, just glorious exposure! You can send your work to me via e-mail at email@example.com. Authors retain all rights. You can also follow or subscribe to this blog. There are gadgets for that on the right side of this page. I love the company and it helps with the search engine ranking. Comments, critiques, and questions are always answered in as timely a manner as I can manage between my day job, writing, studies, blah, blah, blah. There's a form at the bottom of the page for your use.
In the meantime, remember...live, love, write.
Dane F. Baylis