If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Does Not Color Well Between the Lines

I’ve just come off the first phase of my book tour for Every Last Secret, and one question that I was asked at almost every event was: “Do you outline your novels before you write them?”

That seems like a simple yes or no answer, but with me, it’s a little more complicated. Yes, I outline my novels before I write them. No, I don’t follow those careful outlines when I write.

The truth is that I’m genetically incapable of following a pattern or a plan. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought a sewing or knitting or weaving pattern that I wanted to make. Once I begin, though, I can’t stick to it. I have to tamper with it, to redesign it. I just can’t do what someone else tells me to do. Perhaps I have a problem with authority figures. (Do you think?)

This is why I never bother with patterns when I knit or quilt something anymore. For me, they’re a waste of time and money. I just go ahead and design my own work “on the needles.”

When it comes to writing novels, I’d like to change my rebellious attitude, especially now that I have contracts to fulfill with deadlines, and I’m not writing on spec any longer. So, I sit down and do some hard thinking about characters’ needs and motivations, about various actions characters might take, about conflict and pace and things like that. I write out a scene-by-scene outline for the book.

 Then, I sit down to write it. After a while, I find I can’t go on. I feel there’s something fundamentally wrong with the book. So I start looking for problems and testing out characters for new villains. (It’s often the murderer who seems to be wrong.) As I continue to fiddle and play around with the characters and the scenes and various possible actions, I inevitably come up with a stronger villain, a more original motive for murder, and as a nice side benefit, more scenes with powerful conflict enacted.

My method is hard on the nerves, but in each case the book that came from all the redesigning is a much stronger book than the original would have been. So my answer to the question: “Do you outline your novels before you write them?” is still yes and no. Now, I usually outline for about 50 pages and write that before outlining the next 50 pages. That seems to be working for me at this time.

How about you? If you’re a writer, do you outline your novel before you write it?


E. B. Davis said...

I think that it's nearly impossible to write a complete outline. There are so many nuances and quirks that happen during the writing taking the action in new directions. I plot very similarly to you, Linda. I have an overall plan, then I write storyboards for each chapter. Chapter 1--what happens and its function within the overall plot and by which charaters-how I want them shown.

After that is written, I do the same for Chapter 2. For me it is important that I write the storyboard for Chapter 2 after Chapter 1 is written. What comes out in the actually writing effects the next chapter.

Warren Bull said...

I'm trying to learn to outline more. My current WIP has more detail than usual on paper and it is working but if I go into too much detail I end up feeling like I have already written the book.

Gloria Alden said...

Your title, Linda, immediately brought to mind the "D" my oldest boy got in art in the 4th grade. I asked about it at parent-teacher conference and the teacher said he wouldn't color per instructions. He didn't color the Halloween pumpkins orange. My son became a very talented artist, but it wasn't until he was in his teens we discovered he was color blind. I'm not sure it had anything to do with the odd colored pumpkins, though, because he was incredibly creative in many ways.

I don't outline, but I do have lots of ideas and notes jotted down on where I want the book to go plus the general plot is in my head. Like my son, I tend to let the muse take over and then clean up any loose ends during numerous editing later. I think it's a matter of what works best for each individual. Even though I don't outline, I'd probably still paint my pumpkins orange.

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, you're so right. Either you change the stuff in chapters 3 & 4 to flow with chapters 1 & 2 right after you write 1 & 2 or completely rewrite them to do that during the first revision.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, lots of writers say that--too much detail in outline feels like the book's already written.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, I'm with you. It's messier that way, but I think I get more creative alternatives and richness without forcing myself to follow a detailed outline.

And to your son's teacher--Bah!