I was surprised I didn’t outline. I mean, I’m a typical Type A nut, control freak and perfectionist. If you had asked me three years ago if I would outline my novel, I’d have shown you the color-coded Excel document waiting for the right idea. (Control freak, remember? Also, fan of rainbow spreadsheets.)
At first, I was minorly freaking out. How will I know what to do next if I don’t have the next scene planned out? What if my character is staring into space just waiting for stage direction?
But then I remembered the other two novels I started (and, due to life circumstances and the manuscripts’ utter suckitude, never finished). I built a story without anything more than an idea, a spark.
So after all of my brainstorming and fantasizing, I felt like any additional planning would zap the fun out of writing my story.
See, what I was doing during my season of procrastination (longingly called NaNoProMos) was creating a roadmap to my novel. I knew where it started. I knew where it ended. I had played in my mind at least four or five rest stops along the way.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter if we don’t know whether our characters will take I-95 or I-390 to get from inciting incident to climax as long as we know what needs to happen at each of those “rest stops.” Doing that, we have something to work toward from the beginning. The road trip isn’t wild and reckless. But there also isn’t a strict itinerary that’ll suck the inspiration and excitement from the trip.
And now I’m off to use that color-coded spreadsheet to categorize my budget. I can hear The Man’s screams now.
Do you have a road map, a detailed outline, or nothing but a spark of an idea before you start writing?