Wednesday, June 4, 2014

06/04/2014 Writing Wednesday

Greetings everyone and welcome back! I hope this week is treating you well. Mine has been a week so far, and other than the realization that unlike most years I don't have a two week gap between my father and friend's birthdays and father's day, it's going alright. My work is doing a lot of planning, as we are a sponsor for an event called Relay for Life, which supports cancer research, survivors, and honors those who have lost to it, and the talking about it all yesterday was both difficult and inspirational, so I think things are moving forward. At this point I am looking forward to the weekend, especially since there's cake involved, and man I want cake!

Getting back into the swing of things is what I have been trying to focus on though, so I wanted to talk about something completely different today. We are going back to the basics for the post, to the start of any project, right at the very beginning, well maybe not the instant beginning, but close enough! I'm talking about outlines!

Now I will be the first to admit that not everyone uses them, at least not to the same extent. They are helpful on a lot of different levels, and to some people they are just a bunch of squiggles on a piece of paper, but to others they are the guidelines to their entire world. Personally I have found something similar to an outline to be helpful for individual characters, especially ones that tend to have longer lifespans, because it will help give you a visual of what they'd experienced and where they would have been doing specific events. For example, in 'Daughter of the Shackled King' and the books to follow it, there is a character that is over 175 years old, therefore he would have been alive for the events of 'Rending the Seal' and it's group of books. Now he didn't necessarily get involved (he didn't) in the events, but the events did have a trickle effect on his life, so I need to figure that out.

Another point where they come in handy are situations where you have some kind of political ridiculousness going on. Mostly because that insinuates there is so much happening in the background that you need to keep track of, an outline is going to be your helpful little tool for letting you know exactly where things are going. Have a sneaky character that is doing a lot of shady deals no one knows about until it makes it look like the vice president has been laundering money from the secretary of treasury (I have no idea how any of this works, obviously), an outline will tell you who that guy has been talking to in order to make that happen.

Also, if you just have a metric ton of people to keep track of. There are a lot of books/series that pile on the characters that all do their own things and even as a reader it's hard to know who/where/what all these people are doing. As an author it's even harder and an outline will help keep all that craziness in order. As much as I find him to be a jerk, I assume George RR Martin's wall looks like one of those conspiracy-murder-solver-walls with pictures of people with their faces crossed out and strings connecting them because of the number of people that are in that stupid series and/or that have died. That's his outline, yours can look like a sane person's though.

One other use that my friends and I have found, and this was discovered mostly by accident; time travel. If you have decided that your primary plot device/tool is going to be time travel, you need an outline. This is not a request or a suggestion, it is a requirement. Time travel makes so many things go backwards and get confusing that the only real way to know for 100% what is right and what has been changed and now, is to make an outline, especially if you are using a type that will create new timelines once the past has been changed. I am telling you this for your own good, venture where I will not, because time travel makes my head hurt.

I wish you all luck in your endeavors. I hope the refresher on outlines was helpful for today! I will be back on Monday so I hope you all have a great rest of your week.

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