I put in two good, two hour writing sessions today, continuing the outline I began midweek. I’m taking the outline process further than I have in the past and at the moment it’s feeling like a very constructive way of working. My reservation with outlining is that when I sit down to write, that ‘whats going to happen’ excitement might not be there. Given that what I actualy experience is far more often a ‘will this be the the  ight thing to happen when I get to Act 4 or am I just going to have to rewrite the whole thing anyway’ feeling I decided that risking the excitement in favour of having at least a vague idea of how things fit together might be a good idea. The test comes when I sit down to rewrite chapters 1 – 3 of this project. If they are a significant advance from the last draft then I will have made some progress.

Its strange where and how I end up finding information about writing. I have more than one friend who is absolutely scathing about any kind of popular ‘How to Write a Novel’ book. A few years ago I felt the same, but my experience  of actualy trying to find expert insights into writing fiction has made me do a 180 degree turn on this issue. Novels are a popular artform after all (at least the ones I read are) so why shouldn’t you get ideas for making them from popular sources?

The latest in the long line of my literary muses is Albert Zuckerman’s ‘Writing the Blockbuster Novel’. I picked this up for 25p in a car boot sale and after a quick flick threw it into my large pile of unread writing guides. A few months later I was listening to a Slice of Sci-Fi podcast from Dragoncon 2006 that was a recording of Kevin J Anderson’s panel at the con. I don’t know Kevin’s work (although I’ve picked some up since) but half way through the cast he references Zuckermans book as the single most influential writing guide he read before getting published. So I pulled ‘WTBBN’ out of the pile a discovered an absolute gem.

Outlining is oone of the maiin things I pulled out of the book. I have always outlined my attempts at a majour project before, but only at half the detail of profesional outlines I have seen since. I think a big part of the reason was being over keen to get into the meat of the writing to prove to myself I could do it. Getting to the 15k point on my two week blitz of ‘Masques’ for FantasyCon really advanced my chapter writing, so now I feel much happier doing a full outline without losing patience and leaping into the writing feet first.

 If I get the outline finsihed this weekend I will post some sections of it here and go into some detail of how it developed.

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.


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