For the last few stories such as Spinsterella, Spellbound, Isis: Bride of Dracula Isis: Samurai Goddess and E’steem Little Girl Lost I’ve been applying a more traditional approach to my writing technique. Writing an outline and synopsis of the story before I write the story.
In the past when I wrote novels like The Cassandra Cookbook, The Temptation ofJohn Haynes and The Thetas I usually just winged it when I wrote. After I wrote a simple mission statement for the story, I’d start writing the book. Working on a chapter a day translating the pictures in my head into words, I’d keep writing until the story was finished.
I liked using that approach because I thought it’d keep the story fresh for me. I used to believe if I saw what the ending was in the outline then I wouldn’t be as motivated to write an inspired story or finish the book.
However, things changed when I was writing Spinsterella. For that story I decided to write a synopsis detailing all the events of the story from beginning to end. And to my surprise it didn’t ruin the story for me or my readers. Spinsterella has been received positively by readers and is one of my more popular titles.
I’m starting to prefer using outlines and synopses because they provide me with a road map to see where the story is going from a panoramic perspective. While I enjoyed the journey from the winging it approach to writing, the outline and synopsis model allows me to see what direction the story is going in and what I need to do if I have to correct course when things aren’t working. For example in Spellbound, when I looked at my outline and saw that the course to the first plot point wasn’t working, I decided to change it so the storyline could flow more organically.
And sometimes I still deviate from the original outline. For example in the upcoming E’steem: Little Girl Lost I wound up changing parts of the second act midway because I got some ideas that’d build up to a stronger climax. But after working those ideas in, I went back to the plan laid out in my original outline for the finished story.
Working with an outline and synopsis is a lot easier than trying to write scenes by ear. On some books like Isis: All About The Goddess I’d get stuck in between chapters and I’d have to take a day or two to figure out what direction I wanted to go in. However, with an outline and synopsis I know what direction to go in and what chapters to write. So when I sit down to the keyboard I just start writing and pick up where I left off.
Working with this new technique has it’s challenges, but I’m finding it’s a lot easier than the technique I used when I first started writing stories over twenty years ago. Does it improve the quality of my stories? Only my readers probably notice the difference.