So, not that long ago I picked up Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland and I loved it. I have often struggled with Outlining versus Discovery writing because I fell into the category that once I had dreamed up the whole thing into an Outline, I no longer had the motivation to write the story. Mr. Farland’s advice to take the middle ground has been life-changing. I do still write that sketchy outline (I’ve shown pictures of it before) but especially at the beginning of a novel I feel free to toss that puppy out the window once I get going.
Like I did with Last Child of Winter recently.
No, seriously. 30% of that outline got tossed because the characters on the page led me to something a little different.
So I’m still Discovery Writing, seeing where the characters lead, but I have a rough idea of where I need this story to end. And since this book is about a Talent Show, all roads lead to the stage.
But I think the part that I loved most about Million Dollar Outlines is that he gave me space to brainstorm. He admitted to sometimes staring at a blank screen for an hour and working things out in his head, and to be frank… I always got frustrated with myself for doing that.
An hour staring at the screen with no words pouring onto the page? Such waste! Such laziness!
Except, it isn’t.
There might not be anything written down, but every single time I do it, I come away with a better grasp of the story I’m telling. This is why I keep notebooks and pens beside my computer. Because I can jot things down and circle/highlight/underline juicy bits that I need to explore later.
But when it comes to worldbuilding, sometimes things come out in the process of discovery writing too. Such as when this last week I was confronted by a Faery tradition regarding the Fates. No spoilers here, but suffice… it took me by surprise. I had been so centered on the fact that Fae folk had been forced to acclimate to living on Earth that I hadn’t really looked at all the traditions they left behind. Looking into this aspect of their culture has deepened my understanding of the world, the characters, and the story I am telling.
So, Worldbuilding and Me… I suppose this is all to say that writing is amazing and I deeply enjoy being surprised by what shows up on the page.
Happy writing, to those of you who do so. Happy Reading to everyone!