Outlining is great. I love it.
I have a noticeboard above my desk with three different storyboards in varying stages of completion. I map out story arcs. I put a lot of thought into something before I write it.
However, last week something happened during my writing that really shook me up.
How do Words Get on the Page?
First of all, let me take a slight detour past an excellent post you have to read. It’s by Charlotte Rains Dixon entitled How Words Get on the Page. I was going to save this link up for my recap at the end of the month, but it was just too good to wait. Go read it now!
Her main point is:
…magic happens when we engage with the words. That writing gets done when we write…So next time you’re stuck, try writing instead of staring out the window. Trust me, it actually does work.
It’s true. Words get on the page through the act of writing. That’s the only way.
We can have the most incredible ideas floating around in our head, but it’s only once we get them onto the page that we see them in all their glory.
Sometimes an idea that seemed pretty ho-hum in your head comes into its own when it finally appears on the page. At times like that, you can be shocked by the strength of the end result.
I Didn’t See It Coming Until the Last Word
Last week I started a new writing project.
Yes, I’m editing my short story collection of self-pubbing later on this year (in fact I’m looking for beta readers this month so if you’re interested then let me know). However, I’m finding that during the editing process I need to have another first draft on the go to keep my words flowing.
Anyway, the concept of this new writing project had been on my mind for some time. It was a quaint idea but I wasn’t sure if it would actually work on the page. The only way to find out was to write it down.
So I started writing. The first day I only wrote 100 words or so of very ordinary stuff. My inner editor jumped in and reminded me this concept was a long shot.
The second day was a whole different experience. I wrote just over 500 words. In that time a brand new character sprung into life with all the elements I’d been thinking about and one notable addition.
She had a deeper motivation than I had ever realised. That motivation suddenly made the whole premise of the book fall into place and gave me a stunning character arc.
And I mean ‘stunning’ in a very literal sense. I was stunned, short of breath and on the verge of tears. Not the happy, excited type of tears either. They were tears of empathy for this sudden creation. I had, in a very short space of page, uncovered a deep emotional centre to my new character.
The concept I’d been carrying around in my head was okay, but when the words came onto the page the idea became a whole different thing – a much richer and more touching story. I would never have seen this aspect to it if I’d spent that time outlining instead.
So, while I’m still a great believer in outlines, the truth is words get on the page through writing. I can discover so much about characters and plot on the page as I write.
Taking Creative Action
Do you have an idea floating around in your head – an idea you’re not sure will actually work on the page?
Have you tried writing it down?
Spend some time this week putting that idea into words on the page. Not just conceptial words, but actual narrative. Give your Creativity some space to experiment and watch what happens in front of you.
It may not happen right away, but I guarantee it will eventually give you some kind of insight you wouldn’t have got any other way.
What about you? Have you had a similar experience when putting words on the page?
May 16, 2013 at 1:42 am
Wow I feel like you really helped. I was in the same position about the idea but didn’t have an outline so my story was a little sloppy lol. Thanks!
May 16, 2013 at 8:16 am
Always happy to help. Outlining and writing go hand in hand. The trick is to know when to just sit down in front of the page and pour out words until something clicks. Remember, you can always delete words later on once you’ve found your nugget. 🙂
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