Monday, October 11, 2010

First, You Need a Plan

October is great around my neck of the woods.  Every year I can't wait to get the decorations out, make the haunted cookie house, dip apples into blazing hot carmel, cook pine nuts in the oven, and run around at night leaving BOO treats on unsuspecting neighbor's porches after we've rang the doorbell a few times.

But mostly I enjoy building a haunted house in th middle of the cul-de-sac I live in.  Have you ever put together a haunted house, haunted garage, or haunted yard? 

Here's how we do it:  First, we start with a plan.  I bet you thought this would be a post about outlines, I fooled ya, now where's my treat?  I'll let you off just this once.

Around August, my husband and I sit down and start planning the annual haunted house.  Now this is a freestanding unit varying in size but generally around 400 square feet.  I start by drawing a square onto a sheet of paper and then with my husbands help, we start drawing the lines that will turn the square into a maze.

From paper to Excel and then into a Word doc. and out comes:

Our annual haunted house will be the theme of this week's posts.  Check back tomorrow to see where to go from here (Now That You've Got a Plan).

But, since this is a blog about writing I must know, to outline or to write from the hip?  I wrote my first two books without a detailed outline and thought I should have definitely done the outline.  But maybe it was just the type of story I was writing that needed the outline.  Right now I'm writing off the cuff, so to speak, and having no problems whatsoever.  However, I am doing NaNo and decided if any time was a good time to work on outlining it would be for NaNo.  Now that my NaNo outline is done I am losing the interest I once had in the story.

So, here's the question, have you ever lost interest in a story after you've outlined it?  Will the interest come back once I start writing?  (Looks like I managed to squeeze in outlining.  Good thing you didn't give me that candy after all.)


  1. :D First thought: that looks like a DnD dungeon!

    Answer - yes. But rarely. When it happens, I'll just work on something different until the interest comes back. The benefit of having a gazillion story ideas zooming around in your head at the same time :)

  2. Marieke - Darn, secret is out. You caught me. I used to play DND when I was in high school. Did you? I'm even using DND in my NaNo book. The MC is a DM. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Most definitely! I played quite a bit (halfling rogues ftw!), but I enjoyed being DM most :)

    Great - I love the sound of that!

  4. I've never really outlined anything, but I have a plan to do one before NaNo. So, I will certainly keep what you say in mind, to see if I feel the same way (and of course, being conscious of it will change things, too... sigh).

  5. I don't outline for picture books (although maybe I should) but I do go through first and quickly hammer out a draft. I've lost interest in a few after that. I figure if it isn't interesting when it is just basic, it won't hold my interest when it is fleshed out.

  6. Never used an outline-- good luck! 10 days through NaBloWriMo! Woohoo!

  7. Marieke - Ooh, I might need some advice during NaNo. Would it be okay to email you if I get stuck next month?

    Su- Your doing NaNo? Yay! I would like to be your writing buddy. Let me know what to find you under or you can find me under PatriciaTimms.

    Megan - I see where you're coming from with the interest part. Definitely something to consider. I think I've lost my luster for it since I've mapped out each of my 25 chapters and now feel the story has been told to some degree. Part of book writing that inspires me is not knowing what's coming next in my story, but that's also a great way to get stuck with writer's block. I'm hoping the excitement of NaNo will inspire the creativity for the story and surprise me with twists and turns I haven't planned on yet.

  8. I rarely lose interest after plotting. It's the writing forever, and EVER that makes me lose interest the quickest. And yes I think it will come back to you. Once you begin writing, the plot will go in unexpected directions, giving you fresh material to play with.

  9. NiaRaie - Thank you for commenting! Your comment is hopeful as I near NaNo. I've just followed you and I'm about to add you as a writing buddy.

  10. Sorry I didn't comment yesterday. I meant to, but your blog got burried in my dashboard.

    Anyway, it's really cool to see how you go about doing the haunted house. So do you change the layout every year?

    Now, to answer your question ... I've never really lost insterest in a story after outlining, but that's probably because I'm not incredibly strict with my outlines. The way I work is to come up with chapter titles. Then I'll generally write one sentence summarizing the main thing/scene/action that happens in the chapter. Doing so allows a lot of freedom -- I know what has to happen in the chapter, but how I get there is up to me. If I get a new idea, I'll just insert another chapter and push all the others back.

    I think once you start writing the story, the interest will come back. Even if your outline is really detailed and strick, there's still a lot of creativity for you to put in there.

  11. Quinn - It's hard to comment on everything every day. No worries there. I understand get lost in the dashboard. I think I need to find a system or make a spreadsheet so I can keep track of who I've commented on and when I can comment again based on my schedule for writing. Lol!

    In answer to your question, yes, we change the layout every year. It adds to the fun!

    I think we outline similarly. I start with one sentence to describe the premise and then figure approximately how many words I want to end up with and then divide it by 2,000 words per chapter and then I made one sentence to describe what I want out of each chapter. And then I do a bunch of other stuff, but the sentences I can relate with.

    Here's hoping to that interest coming back. Thanks for your support.