Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Weekly Writing Wrambling - Plotting vs. Freestyle, Part Three

For the past two weeks, I have talked about the joys and sorrows of freestyle writing and outlining. There are problems with both of these methods that can be solved by the other, but if you ever need to divert to the other method, you are in trouble. If you go from freestyle to an outline, you've lost all that wonderful freestyling. If characters start doing their own thing, your outline is useless. Similarly, if you have an outline and decide to go off on your own, so much time that you spent plotting has been wasted, and you are soon not going to have a clue what you are supposed to be writing.

Because of that, I prefer a looser form of outlining that I like to call hybrid outlining. That way, I can easily edit it and change it if I want to, but I have some idea of where I am going. I was particularly fond of this method back in hgh school, because I did want to freestyle--I just wanted to control my freestyling a bit more. So while I wrote huge, complicated charts and outlines last week, this week's example is much smaller:

Chapter 4
Bob looks into, and then steals, Jill’s car

There is way less detail. This means your going to start your chapter mostly free (like we discussed the other week), but also means you know what you are supposed to do. The specifics are up to you. I haven't created guidelines about why Bob steals the car, whether Jill sees Bob, where Jill is, and how many cars are in the parking lot. I'm free to let the scene unfold exactly as I see fit. That's pretty nice.
Of course, we run into some issues. Like freestyling, if I have a complicated plot I might forget to do something important. Like outlining, I still am in trouble if I decide to make a major plot change. But these are more easily controlled. If I want to make a major plot change, not much work is lost--and it doesn't cause a lot of work to make a new outline. To negate forgetting something, I can still add more information to my chart, but keep it tiny:

Plot point
Chapter 4
Bob looks into, and then steals, Jill’s car
·         Three identical cars
·         Jill sorta sees Bob

BOOM. Now you know what you need to know, you've still got freedom, and it didn't take much time. Huzzah!
But now it comes to the writing--and things always start changing. Next week I'll discuss post-writing outlining, which is one of my favorite editing techniques.

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