Sunday, January 28, 2007

Chapter Outlines

I have never sat down and prepared a chapter outline before writing a novel. I tend to write my way into a piece, usually with an idea of the ending and of the basic structure (all three of my Undine books have a central shift, that changes the direction of the narrative and I always know from the outset what this shift will be) but I make up the rest as I go. It's not necessarily an efficient way to write, Breathe and Drift both went in very different directions at first and I had to do a lot of deleting. I think it is quite an organic process which leads to quite satisfying character development and in a way it's kind of a chaotic system because one line when I'm writing, one observation or image, can lead to a whole subplot or affect the character's destiny, much like those butterfly wings in Japan.
I found this, which is a very interesting article about how Australian fantasy writer Garth Nix plans and writes his novels (in longhand!!). I have a vague idea for a fantasy trilogy (yes, i know, I am sure I swore I would NEVER write a trilogy again), which I can't start for a year or two because of other obligations. So I was thinking I might try keeping a visual diary for it, jotting down thoughts but also sticking in images to help give shape to my vagueness. Will let you know how it goes.
And I am writing a chapter outline now for a chick lit novel I might be writing for A&U. It's interesting solving all the plot problems at this stage! I am actually writing it in first person, it's the only way I could get the story to come alive. So if the chapter outline is accepted and I proceed with the book, I'll let you all know if the outline made it easier to write and if I think the loss of spontaneity affects the writing process (I'm deeply curious to know myself!)


  1. Anonymous4:57 PM

    Thanks for the interesting link. The idea of writing in longhand is amazing to me. I don't think I can put together a long document without a word processor - I need to be able to write different parts at different times, cut and paste and generally write in a more unstructured manner.

    It'll be interesting to see how your outline experiment goes!

  2. wowsers Pen, a chick lit? really. You're not basing it on a group of crazy mixed up chicks you know are you? Certainly perfect material. Which means you could probably come back, for research purposes you know. xxxx

  3. It's YA chicklit, so probably best not to knock them all up kath ;) But I do agree that there is a lot of material on a certain www.