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Old 03-03-2009, 10:29 PM   #1
jaxx6166
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Outline or Flow?

So - what's your preference?

Do you outline every scene / every chapter like Terry Brooks, Weiss/Hickmann, John Scalzi, and various other authors whose names I forgot?

Or are you more of a let the story grab you by the (insert clever euphamism here) and take you where it wants? This is the type of style preferred by the likes of Stephen King, George RR Martin, and Neal Stephenson?
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:38 PM   #2
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Used to plan everything, never finished a thing. Now I just let the story carry me. Between writing and writing again the story sort of swishes around in my head and things pop up, but I never make notes.

I reckon both types of approach work for the people they work for. But for years I used to read all the how-to this and write-it-that-way kind of books and took their advice to heart. Problem was that I never felt good putting any of those schemes, plans and tricks into action. The only one I ever kept with me, and it serves me well from time to time when I can't focus, is Dwight V Swain's outlining method. I keep it inside my head and refrence it from time to time, but never bother to write it down.

The acronym is:

SCOOD - Situation, Character, Objective, Opponent, Disaster

I'll give you a Swain example, very pulpy of how it works.

Situation When humans suddenly begin to grow to twelve-foot height
Character John Storm
Objective tries to find out why.
But can he defeat
Opponent the traitors in high places
Disaster who want to kill him in order to make the change appear to be the result of an extra-terrestrial plot?
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Old 03-04-2009, 10:08 AM   #3
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I do an in depth time line with important plot devices which have to exist to carry the story, which helps with the pace too.
then when I write, most often fleshing out the details is not nearly as hard when you know you have to include A, B, and C. The timeline itself is in a constant state of flux as I add to subplots. This helps me do things like include small details with huge relivence which I may otherwise forget, while letting the story "uncover" itself, as Stephen King says in "On Writing".
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:24 PM   #4
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I realized I wrote this thread without answering my own question...

I've tried outline. I've tried flow. TPR was outlined in a 10 page outline. Looking back over it, it seems that I only hit on half of my outline. The rest must have been all Flow. I just discovered that I threw the main points of the outline to the wind at chapter 2! After that, I think it just served as a guideline.

My problem with Flow was that when I didn't have the writing bug, everything would just sit idle and forgotten by the time I felt like I should be working again... this has caused me enough grief to have a bookshelf of seven(!) titles started but never finished.
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaxx6166 View Post
I realized I wrote this thread without answering my own question...

I've tried outline. I've tried flow. TPR was outlined in a 10 page outline. Looking back over it, it seems that I only hit on half of my outline. The rest must have been all Flow. I just discovered that I threw the main points of the outline to the wind at chapter 2! After that, I think it just served as a guideline.

My problem with Flow was that when I didn't have the writing bug, everything would just sit idle and forgotten by the time I felt like I should be working again... this has caused me enough grief to have a bookshelf of seven(!) titles started but never finished.
I'm with you there. You have catch the mood or you can be stuck completely and not have anywhere to go when you're using the Flow method. If I find myself in that spot I usually just word-associate and something new comes out of it. But sometimes, when nothing's coming at all, it's worse than hell.
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