Struggles in outlining

Outlining my story was a great idea! I can’t believe just how much easier it is for me to write with this crisp new outline in front of me! Well, maybe not. Outlining hasn’t gone too well. So far all I have to show for my troubles are several aborted attempts. A pantser I remain, for now.

My problem is that I don’t know how to outline. I’m trying to put too much detail into the outline, but I don’t really know what’s going to happen, other than a vague idea of where I want my story to go, and a few key scenes I would like to include. To make a comparison to real life, it’s like knowing where I want to drive to, where I’m starting, but only knowing the general direction I’ll take. Lubbock, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts? I’ll just drive north and east and I’ll get there eventually.

Actually, that sounds like fun, and potentially the makings of another epic “Amy Adventure,” but that’s a story for another time.

I know the ending to the series, though I haven’t sat down and written it down. I know what the problem is going to be in the first book, but not how to resolve it. I vaguely want the second book to focus on Lily’s relationships with everyone around her, and her adversary’s attempt to subvert those ties in order to weaken her. I know Lily will make an unlikely alliance in the third book to defeat her adversary, though it comes with a cost.

Lily’s relationship with her dead mother will come more into focus as Lily learns more about her and the reason for her apparent neglect and unfortunate demise. My character will have to grow up and live up to a destiny that many before her refused to take.

What I hope will work out is the nature of Lily’s enemy. That has me worried because it’s either the best idea ever written, or the worst. It excites me and terrifies me as the same time. I need to finish it before I’ll know for sure.

Writing is a scary endeavor. I’ve gotten used to posting my thoughts on this blog, so now I’m working towards a grander goal. I’ve been hoping to cross this one last goal line, though I’ve been putting it off. I think I’m about ready to put myself out there to be scrutinized, to have my books out to be criticized as either good or bad. As much as I wanted it, I wasn’t strong enough emotionally for it. I am now, I think.

I’ll get back to creating a general outline for Lily, and hope that it is detailed enough for me to work with, but flexible enough for me to create an organic and fluid narrative. I’m still a long ways away from finishing Book One, but in all honesty, I’m closer to being done than I would like.


This is the end, or is it a beginning?

I have no choice now. I have to give in to the inevitable. I should have seen this coming a long time ago, and maybe I did and I tried to delay it by walking away. Now I can see that I have to give in. I’m sorry, but this is the end of my way of life. I can barely stand the thought of it, and it’s breaking my heart to say it, but here goes nothing.

I think I may have to outline this story.

There it is. Mock me if you must, but my time as a pantser is all but over. No, don’t cry for me, at least not yet. All is not lost, but there are moments in life when one must confront one’s fears in order to mature and grow. This for me is one of those moments. It’s a little bittersweet.

I may be overreacting.

So here’s the deal. I’ve been working on this book that I call Lily, which is the name of my main character, imagine that. I want to write it as a series – probably a trilogy just so I can be like all the cool writers out there – so I’m having to do more planning than I’m used to. It’s not going all too well at the moment.

I can see some key scenes in my head, and I’m working on trying to weave them together into a cohesive narrative. I’ve written most of book one already, though there’s a lot I have to correct and clean up before I’m ready for anyone to take a look. For the rest, I have an ending in mind, key plot points I need to address, but when and how are the questions keeping me awake.

Maybe I’m not ready for this, but then if not now, when? I’ve talked this through with my confidant and I think this may work, at least if I frame it correctly, hence the need for an outline. I’ve never used one, but I think my story is becoming too complicated and convoluted to try to write this piecemeal, without a road map to guide me.

Since I’ve never done an outline, I have no idea how to do it. I guess I could do a little research into outlining, or maybe ask other writers how to create one, but I know I won’t. I’m writing my story, and I know what I need, so I guess any outline that I need to create must serve my needs and not try to live up to someone else’s definition of what an outline should be. Which now begs the question, why am I bringing this up?

But just for giggles, how many of you work from an outline? Anyone?