Ok I’ve never been a huge fan of using outlines in my writing. I don’t know what it is about them, but I always found them more frustrating than helpful. I think the reasoning behind this might be because of how it has always been explained to me. It has been explained as a tool to better organize your paper. Meaning you already know what you are going to say, so put it in a few main points, and subpoints and what not in outline form, then take that to write your paper. But this struck me as wrong, perhaps because I am a bit lazy, but I didn’t want to basically do the work twice. I’d rather do a rough draft and a final draft (and the many rough drafts in between) than deal with an outline which has no real merrit on the actual paper. So I’ve never done them.
Then as I started listening to Podcasts, I picked up on Tracy Hickman’s podcast. Tracy Hickman co-wrote the Dragonlance Saga and I’ve always had a respect for him. Well it came time for him to promote his latest in the series with Margaret Weis and they were podcasting their book tour. I started hearing Weis’ tale of how she really came up with Raistlin’s character and this is honestly what started me with outlining.
With Raistlin, Weis was given a picture and she had to come up with a character to fit with the picture. The picture was of a young man whom was frail, with golden skin and hourglass eyes and white hair. When she asked the artist why he was like that, the artist replied that it looked cool. So she began to ask herself and she came up with answers that fleshed out the character.
Well when I came up with an idea for a story I started doing the same thing, except I wrote it out in an outline format. So I would have the main point in the beginning with sub-points, and sub-points to the sub-points. It made for a much more organized beast that does a good job at setting up this story. Now I will likely not use much of this material for the actual book, so I’m not organizing the story in anyway. But what I am doing is organizing my ideas so that I know what is going on fairly easily. I don’t have to look through paragraphs anymore, I can look things up very quickly.
This week I have a paper due in my Detective fiction class so in order to write it out I decided to give the outline another shot. The question is how are two detectives different so I started outlining how and why the were different. It seems to be working, it isn’t ordering the paper in anyway, I will do that myself, but it does allow me to figure out what my main points should be which should help me figure out an order better.
Now I need to just start thinking about doing this type of outline for my first story that I plan on writing and publishing.