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The Outline as Roadmap – How Close Do You Stick to It? November 7, 2011

Posted by shannonmuir in analysis, characters, NaNoWriMo, novels, outline, plot, theme, work in progress, Writing.
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This might sound strange, but this is the first year I’ve actually attempted to outline my novel for National Novel Writing Month. I used to add to my challenge by basically only coming up with a logline (i.e. high concept) and the main characters and just let my brain run. That was part of the adventure for me, and especially given I worked a full time job every year I did it (this is the first time I’ve been unemployed during NaNoWriMo) kept me on my toes. With more time on my hands, I decided to make at least a high level outline this year as to where I expected to be for the content of each chapter and divided my expected word count amongst the number of chapters.

I didn’t stick to it well at all.

The first way I didn’t stick to it is all right. My word count estimations are nowhere near. This is all right because they are estimations. I predicted it would take me two days per chapter, at the mininum quota each of the days. That didn’t happen; it was probably closer to three days worth per chapter but as I am now a couple days ahead on word count as I write this that is an estimation at best. By my original estimates I should be in Chapter Seven, but I have only started Chapter Four but am farther ahead in word count than I thought I would be.

However, one thing that’s just tough to account for is when characters begin to evolve on the page more than originally planned. This is my current issue. Myanna (who you see in my sample from yesterday’s blog) did not exist in my original outline, but her being in the story is necessary to get Truth to where I planned to have her at the start of the tale.  Chapter One in my mind originally would have come out in backstory in some form – I hadn’t developed it heavily in my head – but in hindsight you really need that information up front to understand the character. I made a last minute outline adjustment to have the past be Chapter One, and then looking ahead combined two chapters because I realized that alone they would be too short, and thought that would get me “back on track”. My experiences in the prior paragraph proved things different on that count.

However, as a result of Chapter One, Truth underwent a bit of a personality change. Instead of being a total introvert from the world because no one likes her, the events of Chapter One motivate her to be a bit more assertive than I originally saw her. The tweaking that followed led to a major rework of Chapter Three, where the high point (Truth meets Lye) is still the same but I needed to radically alter the circumstances under which they met. I believe I’m as back on track now as I’ll get at this point.

It’ll be interesting to see where the journey goes next.

If you want to find out more about my NaNoWriMo effort this year, see my post from yesterday for additional details.

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Comments»

1. shannonmuir - November 11, 2011

Just a note to let you know that Sample Sunday will be skipped this weekend due to Blog Tour de Troops. I will share another excerpt from HALF TRUTH AND FULL LYE the Sunday after. Thanks!


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