Do You Outline?

I think I said in one of my early posts that I did do an outline for my first book. I carried around a stack of note cards and wrote down scenes as I thought of them. I figured about three scenes per chapter, twenty chapters for a compact mystery. I suppose if you were going for 75,000 pages that would be about 22 chapters. I organized them into a plot line that had a murder at the beginning, and then two climaxes after. If I was missing a logical link between different scenes, I added those in as I put the cards in order and pinned them up on the wall so I could keep thinking about whether or not the plot made sense.

I haven’t done an outline since then because I wanted to keep the spark in my writing but I think that I always end up working on my plot before I’m done. Organic translates into chaos for me. In my classes, I ask my students to write a short bio for their main character, too. This is a great way to keep track of  your characters so they don’t end up with a different hometown or even a different name!  Eventually, maybe I’ll come up with a way of putting a book together that works on every book.  Right now that doesn’t seem to be the right answer for me.  Each book seems to have its own way of growing from those first couple of ideas that I put together.  Until then, I’ll keep trying all of those great ideas that seem to pop up! 

Here’s a link from Martina Boone that has some interesting tools.


About marystojak

Mary Stojak has published numerous short stories, her latest will be published September 28th in Mystery Weekly.
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