Outlining? What’s that?
So, late last week I decided that my current novel outline wasn’t going to cut it. Much of it felt felt too slow, the stakes weren’t high enough and the climax went in my protagonist’s favor just a little bit too easily. Something had to be done about this, I thought. I therefore took a short break from writing new material in order to revise my plan based on what I’ve learnt so far.
After two days, the revised outline remained incomplete but was nonetheless looking good. It significantly tightened the story’s beginning and introduced an element of time pressure to make things harder for my protagonist early on. Better still, it looks as though I’ll be able to implement it in the first redraft without too much hassle, as many of my existing scenes can easily be adapted to fit. The climax and ending, however, remained a problem. Thus, rather than lose any more writing time, I decided to go back to the novel and hope the ending would come when I got nearer.
Naturally, I managed to stray from the new outline within 500 words of a new scene.
This scene was originally intended as little more than a comedown from the “big” scene I mentioned a little while back. When I actually wrote it down, it turned out to be more pivotal than the scene that preceded it. While the earlier scene revolved around my protagonist making a life-altering decision, this new scene marks the beginning of the fallout from that decision. And while there was always going to be a fallout (this is around midway into the story), what happened was far more brutal than what I originally had in mind.
Quite how this will affect the outline, I’ve yet to fully work out. What I do know is that at least one new character needs to be introduced. This character will be interacting with the protagonist a lot from now on, and so is likely to have a big impact on subsequent events. Since I have no idea what that impact will be, I’ve decided to go with the flow for a while and see what happens. In other words, I’m going to be pantsing again.
My track record with pantsing is…not great. My earlier novel attempts were done this way, and none ended remotely well. Thanks to the snowflake method and other resources, however, I know a lot more about plot and structure than I did the last time around. Therefore, I’ll hopefully be able to tell early on if my novel is starting to derail, and thus will not have to delete too much text the next time I make a outline.
At this point, I’m at 55k on the main WIP. I’m still playing around with short stories, but have yet to write one through to completion. Still, this has proved to be the best bout of writing that I’ve done in years, and I can only hope that it’s a sign of things to come.
Has anyone else tried swapping back and forth between planning and pantsing? How did it go? Feel free to leave your thoughts below.