So My Genius Outlining Idea . . . Wasn’t

Had this awesome idea for breaking out story conflict into its component parts based on critical plot issues (this is STILL an awesome idea), and then taking the conflicts from various components and playing them off against each other to quickly outline scenes.

That’s where the idea crashed into usability in a big, ugly way.

See, STORY comes first. Writing down X vs. Y on index cards and then expecting these cards to spur scene ideas flattened me and the writing on Dreaming The Dead for over a week. I did everything else BUT write last week, while I looked at those hundred X vs. Y index cards and tried to see the story in them.

This week I deleted every damn one of them, and am doing the cards the “old-fashioned” way…that is, by writing out a Sentence Lite for each one. And THEN I’m using those awesome broken-out conflict elements to give each card depth.

But…

The story comes first.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

3 comments… add one
  • arl215 May 10, 2009 @ 10:19

    I feel like I’m going thru a famine waiting for your next book read almost all of yours.Fantabulous just finishing Courage of the Falcons.You’re a genius.I hope all goes well and quickly for your next masterpiece.

  • wolverine May 5, 2009 @ 9:35

    Hi Holly,

    I’m still fairly new at writing: although I’ve been doing it for years I haven’t really put in long term efforts, just short bursts. I’m looking at all of your books and course, and realised what I really want is ‘how’ to plot. What I mean is, how to get from the story idea (and often a very nutshell-y, brief idea or theme or character image) to scenes and overarching conflicts etc. Which of your books (I don’t think I can afford Thinking Sideways yet, in money or time) would be best? Plot Clinic, I’d assume, but I thought it would be worth asking.

    Sorry to jump in with my completely unrelated question! Good luck figuring out Dreaming the Dead!

    Wolverine

  • MarFisk May 4, 2009 @ 15:43

    HUGS! But the best way to learn is to try new things :). What’s funny is that if you change your conflict cards to Sentence Lite, that’s exactly how it felt for me. The Lite is excellent for evaluating the scene card for me, but without the scene card, it’s too bare to spark me.

    This also reminds me of a time when I tried to outline each thread in a book and then integrate the threads. That was a nightmare because I ended up with 60 scenes times 4 and had to analyze weight and such because the story was lost under the flood.

    But you never know until you try, and just because it didn’t work the way you’d hoped doesn’t mean the time was wasted.

    Good luck with your Lites :).

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