In the interest of full disclosure (does anyone else love using that phrase?), I’ve written a few posts about outlines over the years. I think I even had one in January. The things is that my opinions have evolved since I began writing.
And I thought I’d revisit the subject.
The short answer to why I now use an outline is: I have a shit memory and not having an outline was affecting my ability to write a cohesive mystery series.
And that was the ‘short’ answer.
The long answer? I have a shit memory and not having an outline was affecting my ability to write a cohesive mystery series.
Looking back, my fear of outlines comes directly from learning about them in school. I hated the rigidness of them. And also, they never made sense to me. At all.
It randomly struck me last year that an outline could be whatever worked for me.
I began with a cobbled together version of a tree branch mind map. That morphed to include a bastardized version of the beat sheet. And finally, I began doing a chapter by chapter one sentence breakdown that I updated as I write.
The latter is the most recent addition.
I’ve found it really helpful was I’m writing to jot down a sentence or a thought for what’s going to come in the future chapters. With a mystery, I don’t want to be stumbling for clues as the writer. And I’ve done that a few times in the past.
It’s been a revelation toward making my writing life easier.
A couple years ago, I put a blog post together of writing quotes I enjoy and use for inspiration.
I thought I’d share a few more of my favourite quotes. This time from books I read either as a kid or in my teens.
“. . . . I cannot escape my life but can only use my determination and courage to make it the best I can.” ― Karen Cushman, Catherine, Called Birdy
“There’s some good in this world, Mr Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” – Jane Austen, Persuasion
“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs. – Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
“As Estha stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts and the Two Thoughts he thought were these: a) Anything can happen to anyone. and b) It is best to be prepared.” —Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
For me, and I’m sure most authors, there’s always details about your characters that don’t wind up on the page. Things that help you build their personalities or their worlds, yet readers might not see them. I thought it would be fun to share a few of those.
First, the biggest thing that happens off screen in Cosplay Killer actually occurs a year or so before the story even starts. Osian experiences the worst fear, I imagine, for any paramedic. It greatly affects both him, Dannel, and the story itself.
I wanted to start a year on because to me it was interesting to delve into the process of recovering from that.
Second, Dannel’s family history. It’s a tricky one because we see what happened from Dannel’s perspective and when you’re a kid, you see things different. I’m going to enjoy exploring that even more as the series progresses.
Third, theatre kids. This one is kind of on the page because we see a lot about musicals and plays. But both Dannel and Osian were massively into theatre throughout their childhood. I don’t really explore that much.