Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To Outline or Not to Outline

When I began my first novel, I was reading Robert Jordan's uber-epic Wheel of Time series. This did  the tremendous misfortune of letting me believe that I could let my muse prattle on unrestrained. The book went way long, and I'm loathe to cut it down to size. I'm proud of it, but current publishing trends don't let first-time authors write such epics (226k words).

I had just read Stephen King's book On Writing when I began my second novel, and though I highly recommend the book, it did me this disservice of thinking that I could be a straight-up discovery writer. That's not King's fault. It's mine. He even warns would-be writers to find their own ways. I failed to do so, and I failed to take into account the expectations of both my genre and, again, the publishing world. To bring my novel down to a more palatable 144K, I had to strip out nearly 40k words. The Valkyrie (my working title) is stronger for it, but it was a painful process.

It looks like I straddle the fence when it comes to defining myself as either an outliner or a discovery writer. I'm a bit of both. For my next novel, I'll be trying out the Snowflake method. It sounds very intriguing. Thanks to my buddy Rusty for forwarding the link.

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