Thursday, October 30, 2014

PlotNoWriMo: Fine Tune

In the final week, we examine your outline so far and fill in any gaps left to make it work as a whole. The most important thing to remember about the outline?

If your novel is causing you undue stress next month, don't worry about straying from your outline or abandoning it entirely, IF it keeps you writing. But the hope is that we've done a thorough enough job of outlining that we've anticipated and fixed plot-related problems that could arise.

One thing to realize is that the actual writing of your outline may not feel as inspired as all the brainstorming and outlining we've done this month. It's possible that when you actually start to write, some of the shine has dulled from your idea. This happens often when our brilliant creation feels bogged with the technicality of writing it or even if the story isn't coming out as we envisioned in the first draft.

Be careful that you don't abandon your outline prematurely. A good way to tell whether a problem lies with a flawed outline or a bored writer is to look at the reason why you're having trouble.

If the dots of your story aren't connecting -if the character isn't cooperating, if the plot points are beginning to unravel- this is a good indication that your outline isn't working and it's safe to try writing without it for a while. (As a cheerful anecdote, while writing The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien had no idea who Strider was when he met the hobbits in Bree, but Tolkien decided to go with it. Now can you imagine LotR without Aragorn?)

If the plot still works, but your inspiration and passion for putting the words together has waned, there's a good chance the problem is you and the answer is to sludge through. Assuming the idea felt inspired and brilliant during the outlining stage, you still believe in your story and want to write it, you've just hit a rough patch. As with any creative pursuit, there are going to be times that you want the finished project without going through the hard process of creating it. We've all been there. If you really want to be a writer -or a person of any creative pursuit- we need to take the technical and/or boring side of the project with the thrill of the ingenious craze. Don't give up on your outline just yet. If you keep writing, you should find that the boredom will vanish and the inspiration return, you just need to stick with it.

On a personal note, I've (almost certainly) decided that I'll be skipping NaNoWriMo myself this year. I have my work cut out for me completing my MG novel Rodney and the Gonjii, and most of this is fine-tuning and arc-mapping, so word count does not really apply.

For those of you participating, the best of luck! And hey, I'd love to hear about your progress during NaNo. A vicarious experience, if you will. Be sure to tell me whether or not this outlining process has helped you, as I hope it has. Just #PlotBender.

PlotNoWriMo Schedule: 


  1. I'm a big outliner, but that doesn't mean the initial vision is going to remain the same. Sometimes a better idea comes along and rejuvenates the process. Solid sage advice here, Amanda. :)

    1. Thankee kindly, David. You make a good point as well. We should always keep a lookout, because we never know when our Strider might waltz unexpectedly into the story. ^_^