Tuesday, March 1, 2011

FAQ - Do You Outline?

Q: Do you make a detailed outline before you begin to write a novel?

A: I'm often asked this and up till now my answer as been "No, I send my editor a few pages indicating a bit about characters and plot -- what's the main problem, what are the conflicts, what are some high points, and what's the resolution."

But things have changed. The novel I want to write next isn't about Elizabeth Goodweather nor is it a spin-off like The Day of Small Things.  It's still in the mountains, still in mythical Marshall County.  But it's a whole new cast of characters and not really a mystery.

And since I'm not a best-selling author, getting a new contract isn't a foregone conclusion. It's not my editor's decision alone. The new novel basically has to be pitched to a group of people - including marketing -- who will be asking one question. And that question isn't Is this novel going to be a well-written book? 

No, the question is Will this book sell a lot of copies?   Because, like it or not, publishing is a business.
So I've been directed to write a really detailed proposal -- almost a chapter by chapter synopsis.  I make a start -- and I find I'm writing the book rather than a synopsis. Arrgh!

Which is why I'm giving the Snowflake Method a try.  Back in the fall, one of the students in my writing class told us about this way of working out a plot and I was intrigued. (I'm not going to try to paraphrase it here -- check the link if you're interested.)  Now I'm working through it, trying to come up with a dynamite proposal.

It takes time -- but I'm hopeful that the hours spent on this meticulous outline will save days when it comes to writing and I won't be up in my workroom in the wee hours of the morning, trying to figure out what should happen next.
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Martin H. said...

You recommended the Snowflake method to me, a while ago, Vicki. Although I haven't put it into practice yet, it's a method I think I could work with, for outlining a story.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm not familiar with the Snowflake method, so I'm off to read more about it. I am a wordy woman, so summarizing things are very hard for me. Often, my husband says when I start to tell a story, "is there a short version of this?" LOL

Brian Miller said...

intrigued...off to chase that link...

Suz said...

Brian, I'll meet you there
sounding method
I am stuck in my writing and I am resisting outlining...but I guess
I will give in
thanks teach

Kaye Barley said...

GORGEOUS photos!!!

Vicki - I'm excited to hear about your thoughts for your new book. Good luck with it (I know I'LL love it!).

Margaret said...

Fascinating - and I will check out that link when I get time. The flowers caught my attention - stunning.

Kath said...

Thank you. I've never been an outliner, but I'm intrigued, and you make the case. So off to catch snowflakes on my brain.


Your flower photos are delicious -- barbara

Vicki Lane said...

I doubt I'll use this method all the way through but it's working well to organize my ideas and get started.

Darla said...

Gorgeous photos . . . such peaceful and loving energy emanating from the flowers.

And how exciting about your proposed new book!!!! Wishing you all the best for seeing it accepted and published!