For my first novel, El valle de la inspiración, I wrote as it came to me on my first draft. Then as I went back added here and there, rewrote entire chapters and added the new ones based on ideas that came to my mind which I written on a piece of paper, but never took on an outline. This method worked for me, El valle de la inspiración was not as intricate as the book I’m writing right now. This one is longer, the characters are more and complicated with different kinds of personalities. The settings are in numerous places, fertile valleys, far away island where the savage roam, mountain ranges… did I mention there are four kinds of races in this book? Yes, an outline was needed and then and there I was lost to outlining everything!
In college they had tought me, in my English and Spanish classes, about outlines, but it was on my advanced English classes that I learned to use them in detail. The use of index cards was mentioned and worked on and practice on for the creation of essays. Love essays! But, never in my mind thought they could be so much more of outlining than index cards. I went on researching and found out the dark side of outlines. Their is a world of them, diferent kinds that work for diferent types of authors, some even start with one and move on to others. I’m one of them, yep I’m turning into the dark side.
On my Writer’s Digest I found some that might help those of you in need of something more than the classical index cards. On “Write your novel in 30 days“, which I recomend, you will find methods like The headlights system, The narrative outline, The Morrell, The Borg (this one sounds more like a Star Trek term). Indeed there is much more of this, just Google them and you’ll see. They help stablish the settings on each scene, who are the characters that will take charge in it and the sub-plot they will develop to make the story keep moving on track.
Index cards, as you might have guessed, have decorated my desk this past weeks, but I am also using the Headlights system for when inspiration comes. I just write then, look back and fix and add or take out. But when taking up on a story that you want to write about, I suggest you keep asking yourself WHY?. I asked myself this many times during the creative process and answers come to mind and scenes and character develop. As I read the Writer’s digest I found out this is part of the Morrell method, nice ha, and it is a constant advice to writers. So take it on for those of you who have asked me about my creative process.
Outlines have become my best friends, making index cards a constant companions. Ones that my three year old thinks are for him to learn more numbers and letters, except mine have a decorative touch with color lines on the sides to separate them form his.
I have even done this with the map I’m still building for this new book. The scenery must be stablish in order to set the scene and the development of it. It has worked wonders! So you see I have become addicted to outlines and is a good thing it happened.