Thursday, September 19, 2013

Outlining the next few weeks

by Julie

I turned in the fifth Grace (Manor House Mystery) at the beginning of September and I've just received final galleys of HOME OF THE BRAISED (White House Chef #7) to proofread. They'll need to be sent back soon.

There are two big projects looming, one of which I can't discuss. The other is plotting a storyline for WHChef #8. At this point, I have no title, and only the barest of ideas for a setup. I know there are many writers in this world who don't outline because "If the writer is surprised, then the reader will be, too." I get that. I also know that I like to have a finish line in sight as I'm writing. Helps me understand why each of my characters is doing what he or she is doing.

The thing is, even though I outline (lightly), the story invariably turns out differently than I originally imagined. Happens every time. And the past several books have delivered whoppers of changes. I'm okay with that. I think it's organic and I enjoy the process (even as I'm tearing my hair out), but I still like to have a plan in mind before I start out.

This is actually the hardest part for me. I like to come up with interesting characters, new situations, and  bumps in the road (for my characters) that they don't see coming. But it's hard thinking like a criminal sometimes. Most of the time, if I'm being honest.

The next couple of weeks will be spent with me pacing my house, snacking too often, and jotting notes that I'll promptly forget when I finally sit down to write. My brain is a jumbled mess, which is probably why I seek the structure of an outline.

Thing is, in day to day living, I'm not a structured person at all. I'm a pantser (as in flying by the seat of my pants) through and through. I go with the flow. Always. But when it comes to writing, I turn into a detail-driven dervish. (How's that for alliteration?)

What about you? Are you structured and detailed? Or do you mostly go with the flow?