Outlines are the Zombies Eating my Brain
As a writer, I’m constantly striving to improve my craft. There’s a ton of information and advice out there. But it seems everywhere I’ve looked lately has led to experts and/or seasoned writers talking about outlining stories. They lecture the need to lay the bones of the plot in the right sequence so elbows are attached to arms instead of legs and heads sit atop necks, not hip bones. I have no doubt that this is very desirable when building a person-shaped thing. But what if the thing is story-shaped?
I confess to being the type of writer than sits at the keyboard with only the barest wisp of an idea before plunging ahead. The voices in my head tell me what to do next. Wait. That didn’t sound right. My story characters’ voices in my head tell me what to do next. Better.
My attempts at outlines feel like Doctor Frankenstein’s creation but not as handsome or talented at tap-dancing. I’ve tried to create outlines. Really. Many times. In different mediums and multiple colors. I’ve built my skeletons, even grown some flesh on them. But what comes shambling out is not what I intended at all.
And they all want to eat my brain.
Okay, maybe it just feels like they want to chomp on my gray matter. The theory of outlining a story is a solid one. It makes perfect sense, and seems like an exceedingly logical way to proceed. The problem is that, like zombies, outlines are scary, partially formed things chasing after you with serious noshing on their minds or stomachs, whatever. To me, the thought of writing to an outline is like that of a zombie eagerly sucking brains through a straw sticking out of a hole in my head – akin to a coconut husk cocktail on Tiki night at the Luau.
So why even try to outline if it doesn’t work for me? I have a guilty little squirmy feeling that I haven’t really given outlining a chance. And I might be missing out on a really good thing. The zombie might not be irredeemable. Like the zombie guy in Warm Bodies, there might be a heartbeat under the disintegrating skin of its chest. So, I want to believe. I want to believe that the magical properties of outlining will be able to transform the zombie into a hot guy, uh, I mean, into a useful member of society (no, I really meant hot guy). I’m going to try outlining my third novel to the Synemancer trilogy (tentatively titled Dark Syns). And if I have any brain matter left after that, I’ll call it a success and be enlightened to the joys of outlining. Unfortunately, just typing that last sentence made something dribble out of my ear. Well, let’s see what happens.
Contemporary witch Cara Augustine goes international and inter-dimensional, from San Francisco to France to an alternate Eden-like dimension, in this second book of the Synemancer series.
Cara is a fugitive, pursued by the Portalkind police for breaking a major covenant. When she accidentally made a werewolf her witch’s familiar, it amounted to enslaving a human. And the punishment is death. On the run for her life, she and her companions stumble into a strange paradise dimension. But they quickly find the dangerous world is filled with strange creatures, deadly and beautiful. And, because she’s quickly learning a Synemancer’s life is never simple. Cara has to deal with an amorous Nephilim (half-angel half-witch), a dangerously deranged French werewolf, and the darkly handsome Nightkind she just might love. Each powerful supernatural man has his own reasons for wanting to possess Cara, body and soul. But if the Portalkind police catch her, she’ll be in a fight for her life.
I currently live with my husband and dogs in northern California. I have a son who attends college in San Francisco. After years of working in the business world while secretly wishing I could be a writer, I finally took a leap of faith and started writing. My first book, SYN IN THE CITY, was published in 2010 and I haven’t looked back since. Well maybe a few glances in the rearview mirror, just to see if anyone was tailing me, but not many.
Amazon Print: http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Syn-Mertianna-Georgia/dp/1610261186/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1359358824&sr=1-1
Amazon EBook: http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Syn-Synemancer-Series-ebook/dp/B00B5EGYA0/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1359358824&sr=1-1
Mertianna will be awarding a canvas tote bag printed with the book cover on one side and a saying on the other (“Are you a syn-er?”), and filled with goodies plus a $20 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (S ONLY).
Bart straightened from his defensive semi-crouch, still eyeing the Hounds warily. I glanced around the room to see if the orbs were here, but they were nowhere in sight. The mirror chimed and shimmered for the umpteenth time since I’d come into the room. A tall, pale man dressed in black and wearing a black backpack walked into the room. Azrael stood silently on Amelia’s hardwood floor, and by the expression on his beautiful face, he was angry enough to chew spells and spit out hexes. He quickly scanned the room. His ice-blue eyes focused on me and I had his full attention. All Hades was about to break loose. With two weres, two Hellhounds, and a Nightkind in the room, the situation was about to get bloody.
Sorry for the late post. I’m playing catch-up here so I’m just popping in to say HI and sorry I missed visiting with you on party day! Hope you all had a good time!
kareninnc at gmail dot com
That’s great you’re always looking to improve
bn100candg at hotmail dot com
Thanks everyone for your great comments! I guess I’m not alone in the outline zombie zone! Happy reading and/or writing… I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my posts. And thank you Blood Red Shadow for hosting my guest blog today. Love the name of your blog!
Outlines are the Zombies eating your brain!? Too funny!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com
Posting your blog was a delight. I too struggle with outlining. I’m a pantser at heart. It works better for me if I draw a sketch of each character – a description, qualities, etc. This gives me an idea of where my story should go.
Barbara of the Balloons
It’s been an absolute blast following your tour around! All the awesome guest posts have bee super fun! Good luck with this series! I know it’s one to keep my eye on!
andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com
Thank you for the post, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on outlining. Angel of Syn sounds like a compelling read.
I would hate to outline. I think it would be easier to let the story flow as the characters decide it should.
Thank you for hosting
Outlines? OK, in school I loved writing outlines. But as a writer, I don’t. I will not submit an outline to a publisher, but a synopsis of what the story is. When I write the story, I already know the beginning, middle and end, and work the story from those points. Did I mention I hate outlines today? Yeah! Sounds like you don’t care much for them, either. LOL