Monday, April 23, 2012


So I originally planned to finish this post and publish it on Friday.  But the Day Job got CRAZY busy.  I didn't even get to sit at my computer during the work day, let alone get a lunch break that would've afforded me the time I needed to post this.  But it's Monday, and I have time before my INCREDIBLY busy work day to finish up.  So here it goes!

On Wednesday, I wrote about outlining.  In the comments, Terry Wright (whose synopsis tips I recommended) said, "...[D]o the outline before you write the story, when that idea is festering, no matter how much you're itching to type that first murder scene (or whichever). In the end, you'll be so much more prepared to polish and submit a synopsis."

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with this.  Except...

In my personal experience, I have to free-write new ideas to get a feel for my characters, the setting, and the style I want to use.  Now remember how I said, "Your first idea is your worst idea?"  If you free-write ANYTHING before you write your outline, that's probably going to apply.  I don't think I've ever used a scene that I wrote before outlining in a manuscript.  And if I did, I threw it out before querying because it didn't work.

Now, I free-write with new ideas.  I sat down two different books over the last year and tried to wrap my head around a protagonist, his world, and his motivations.  The reason I'm not writing those books is because the ideas didn't "feel" right.  They didn't sound like books I wanted to read.  And that meant I wouldn't want to write them.

You see, I needed to try my hand at a scene or two before I started plotting out the story because I have very limited free time for my writing.  I can't spend days, weeks, or even months writing a book that I just won't like.  In the future that will certainly be an option, but my time is better spent focusing on stories that I genuinely enjoy.

My advice, as far as this applies to you, my readers, is that you don't spend too much time on this concept, but consider it now and then.  If you spend any real time with it, though, make sure that it's valuable.  And be prepared to throw out everything you wrote when it comes time to write the book.

Keep in mind, too, that things change when you get a publishing contract.  Sometimes you have to force yourself to write a book that doesn't "feel" right.  But as the author, you have the opportunity to MAKE it the book you want to read, even if you're not in the mood to write it at that moment.


  1. In an odd way, I've gotten a bit lucky in that my A to Z blogging challenge has been a way for me to free write scenes, letter by letter, for a theme I intended to just have for the blogging challenge. But now that I intend to turn my blog opera into a novella or novel, I've started a skeleton outline and can go from there.

    1. I'm glad to hear that challenge made other parts of your writing easier! :D

  2. Giles I just love your ideas and advice! I have to say, whenever I'm feeling blue about my current WIP, I head over here and read your blog. It reconnects me to the fact that this ain't easy and all writers have moments of struggle in their writing lives!

    Thank you for keeping it real.


    1. You're welcome, and thanks for saying so :). Sometimes I wonder if I'm just making noise. It's nice to know that what I write is helpful to others, as well.

    2. I feel that way about my blog all the time. :) But I do it anyway because there's always that "just in case." You know? I know you know.