Extensive outline for a novel, self imposed torture.

Perhaps I should rename this blog ‘The Weekly Whiner’ to be more fitting to my current mood. This winter has been a thorn in my side and a couple more months of frigid weather are my reality. Today I should be happy that I finished my extensive outline for my novel attempt. But like everything this winter the process of that outline was grueling and made me angry.

About a month ago I made three outlines. One was a two page synopsis of my planned novel. After that I made a chapter outline with about a paragraph for each chapter. Then, looking at that outline, I made a outline with only one sentence for each chapter. All planned out it came to 33 chapters, and I knew I needed to put more detail into this. Then the holidays came around and I put this project aside or simply avoided it for awhile.

Last weekend I had the inspiration to start my extensive outline. The idea was for each of those 33 chapters write a single page outline for each chapter. In one of my college creative classes that I realize was more than a decade ago I learned that chapters should be like self contained short stories. The difference is that the ending of a chapter should be a transition to the next chapter. So my idea for the extensive outline would be for each chapter to have a introduction, then a body, and then a conclusion.  I could do bullet points or whatever for these outlines.

I quickly found out that I could only do three or so chapter outlines at a time. For some reason I found this tedious, boring, and not enjoyable at all. I don’t really know why I hated this so much. On my previous novel attempt in 2008 I only got to about a third of the way through the novel. Since I’m redoing or attempting the same story, I found that outlining the parts that I didn’t get to on my previous attempt took a lot of effort. Overall I spent 8 to 10 sittings writing out this outline.

Amongst the negatives is that I don’t know if it is really detailed enough. I had several solid ideas for scenes, but the story timeframe for between those scenes might be weak.  I don’t know if it’s okay to have filler in novel length books. It is not a suspense book or anything so it probably does not need to be nonstop action, but every book needs to keep the reader engaged. So I really don’t know if I have the making of a planned novel or not. The other negative is that if I hated doing this part of the process, and if I hate the actual writing part of it, that’s a problem. It might mean I’m doomed before I start.

On the overwhelming positive of this process is that I have a 33 page outline. Each chapter is outlined in a single page with enough room to make notes if need be. On my previous attempt I wrote out ten chapters, and that was the same amount of chapter outlines I had.  Also thinking of the whole story line can only be beneficial instead of simply the solid scenes I thought over for years. Lastly a positive of doing this I started to make my writing a routine, and I know it is possible to work on this most nights of the week.

I’ll wait a week or so, and then start the next step of writing this thing.  I’ll need to get a fresh notebook, a bunch of pens, and make a schedule of writing daily for at least an hour until it’s done.

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