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Writing Bits and Pieces, Going Rogue


What happens when you spend all that time making an outline and then toss it aside when you’re in the heat of a first draft? You go Rogue. It happens with just about every book I’ve ever written. At some point, I make a change and the next thing I know I’m going off outline. Swinging the machete and clearing a new path. Most of the time I circle back and find the trail again. With my latest Work In Progress I may have ventured too far from the path as set forth in the outline.

I scrapped many scenes in a few chapters and then ditched an entire chapter. At this point, I’m having to completely wing the final act. I mean the story is pretty much the same, it’s the way things happen that has changed. Just enough turmoil to make staying on the outline impossible. But that’s OK.

Novel outlines are not like blueprints for buildings. If you suddenly decide to knock out a wall here and add a new room there, it’s not going to cause the builder any headaches. You just press on and make sure your story has a proper resolution. After you’ve written a few novels, like at least five or six, you begin to develop a second sense about what needs to happen and can often pants your way out of the sticks and back to camp without being on the established path. Can I use any more metaphors here?

So you can see I have about 20 thousand words on this novella. I might have another 10 to 15 thousand left to write. It’s much shorter than a regular novel.