Outlining a story

The creative process is different for a lot of writers. Personally, most of my stories have taken shape either partially or mostly from music. Certain songs inspire characters or stories, that in turn become a soundtrack for whatever it is I’m writing. With my latest story I’ve found myself being deeply inspired by the vocal stylings of Florence and the Machine or Lana Del Rey. What really got the ball rolling with this latest creative venture was Fiona Apple’s remake of “Pure Imagination” From Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. In the past once I’d get an idea into my head, I’d let it settle and marinate. Once I had a working idea of what I wanted to do I’d just start writing. No outlines, bullet points, nothing. Just what I had figured out in mind. For the most part it worked, but it took me a long time get my stories done.

With this past, final school year, I took some creative writings classes. (I actually minored in Creative writing but had to drop it at the last minute to take a boring makeup credit class if I wanted to graduate on time) Those classes I took taught a lot about perspective and preparation. So near the end of my college career, I began to really think about the little story I had floating around in my head. I did what I usually do and just let it settle and form. This time though, I decided to make an actual outline, breaking down each chapter into it’s own condescend story for my outline in the hopes of it being easier to write out when the time came as opposed to before. Back in the day, I was never really fond of outlines. I figured why use them when I know what I want to do. Every writer, when writing a novel, novella, short story, what have you, knows the important beats of their story. They know when a major event is going to happen in that chapter, or part, but they may not know exactly everything that leads up to it. I can tell you truthfully I don’t know every single thing I’m going to write once I get started but I know every single important beat that it leads up to. When a writer tells you that a story “writes itself” they are essentially telling you all the in-between points, the smaller bits of story that are guides to the major parts. It’s not until you go back and look it over do you find out if those smaller bits work or not. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the smaller bits are so good it causes you to completely change your idea for the bigger, important parts. Using an outline I have found has made things much more easier for me. It’s a blueprint for my overall stories that I can reference when I’m having trouble figuring out how to fit a certain piece into the puzzle I’m making.

At the moment I’m starting chapter 8 of a 12 chapter story and the struggle to get there hasn’t been as bad as in the past. I’m thinking I’m going to stick to this whole outline thing.


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