As anyone who reads my status updates or blog posts knows, I’m an outliner. I tend to know how the whole book is going to go by the time I start writing. I write an outline, fill in the details and then follow it.
Except…when I don’t.
Yesterday* I got almost nothing done because I didn’t like the way a scene I’d written the day before tasted. It felt like there was something structurally wrong. So, before going to sleep I spent some time mentally going over the scene and looking for different ways to deal with it.
I ended up completely removing a major character from the scene and that has a series of cascading ramifications for the next two chapters. The new version is better. So, I changed the outline for those chapters and everything else that hinges off them. Then I went in and reset the foreshadowing to give the new stuff a better lead in.
If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change your mind and do something else that does. An outline is just a tool. So is any method you might use to envision the story in advance. Don’t get too tied to your tools.
(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog Dec 05 2007, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)
*Dec 4th 2008