I decided to do something a little different for book 2 of The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle. Working off my prior admission that outlining was a weakness of mine, I chose to work on making an outline for the entire book before I start writing it. I figured that I could do this while working to wrap up the 1st drafts of Gravity 4 & 5 (I am writing them simultaneously) and Of Earth and Ice part 2. Let me say this: I am definitely proving that outlining is not a strong skill of mine.
A part of me wanted to start small. I wanted to build something very basic, something overly simple. Granted, Agnes 2 will be a big story, much longer than anything I’ve written so far. I am predicting it to be 2 to 3 times larger than the first book, which was already the biggest thing I had written. Due to the size, it was calling for some tool to keep me on track. Outlines! But simple wasn’t going to cut it. Short story or short novel, maybe. Not this one.
It’s been a challenge. That part is a certainty. I’ve been working on it in small doses over the last two weeks. And here I am only 1 and ½ chapters into the outline. But it has been helpful for sure.
For one, rather than just having a vague concept about what I intend for the story to be, I am forced to think more in depth… before I put pen to paper. Sure, I can change it as I go. It would give me the ability to think about how what any such change would do to what preceded it and what follows it. This could happen much quicker than otherwise without an edit session to find those impacts.
Another benefit I am seeing now is about getting an idea down on paper. When writing now (let’s call it pre-outlining), I tend to rush off to write out the next idea before losing it. Or I’ll stall on something I hadn’t thought out. I am not trying to cram ideas into my head for when I get a chance to slam my fingers into the keys to write it down. It’s done. And it’s a surprising relief.
But to say it is all flowers and musical numbers is far from the truth. It has been a struggle so far. I’ve not put much effort into outlining before now. It shows. Doing so has me at a disadvantage. Resisting the urge to feel down on myself for not being good at it has been a necessity. Learning new skills is not easy, and I have a lot of skills yet to learn.
That’s the point however. I chose to give it a go. The possibility existed that I could have just went with business-as-usual writing. But I want to grow. It may take me several months to build this outline. Then dammit, I will take those months to do it.