One of the most miserable sensations known to man comes at the precise moment your car starts to sputter, spit and lurch like a taser charged ferret. Your eyes immediately flick to the gas gauge, because deep in your soul-of-souls, you experience a charge of enlightenment worthy of a Shaolin monk. You, Young Grasshopper, have run out of gas.
One moment, you’re blissfully out for a Sunday drive in the countryside, then, in the time it takes the gas gauge to register your Karma, you find yourself stuck in some backwoods hellhole listening to the faint strains of Deliverance banjo music. Another example of the end result of poor planning.
The last blog post, A Voice on Outline Driven Writing, talked about using an outline as a guidepost for your story. An outline doesn’t mean that you are handcuffed to that particular death march of successive plot points. You are the Creator. You are the Supreme Commander of Storymaking. The deal with using an outline, is it’s only an outline–a map of the direct route from start to finish. The route you choose is up to you and you alone.
A couple of blogs I visited this week were militant anti-outline. Like Vegans at a BBQ rib eating contest, militant. Hey! Lighten up! Jeeze! Can’t we all just get along? What works for you might not work for everyone. I find that I need to change from book to book on the approach I need for that story.
Lately, I’ve found that writing without an outline is like running on empty. At first, it feels exciting and edgy. How far can I go? Then, I take shortcuts and start to coast on the downhills, turn off the air and back off on the gas. My story can have lots of great narrative, dialogue and description, but how does this propel the story forward?
Without an outline as a guidepost to find my way back to my original story idea, I could wander about on the dusty backroads until I run dry. Then what? How do I find my way back home? I’ve got no cell signal out here?
What do you have so show for the brief moment of “freedom” of writing without a net?
Dead End Story
A Plot Lost like Flight 370
You might make friends with Bigfoot.
Or, make friends with people who didn’t make the cut for Swamp People.
Archeologists will find your fossilized remains demonstrating your last desperate act of searching for a way out.
So, before you venture off the path, consider the risk.
As was pointed out to me recently…writing is supposed to be fun. So whatever work for you, make it work, for you.