03 May, 2010

Day 42 - To outline or not, that is the question

Word Count: 23,148

I've been breezing along with my manuscript, quite happy with how it's progressing until I realized I had a rather serious time line issue.  I was totally confused, which didn't bode well for potential readers. 

I'd promised myself I was going to write the entire piece before rereading it -- or starting to edit -- but when I lost all sense of who did what when, I knew it was time to take a look.  So yesterday I sat down with pad and pencil (and a BIG eraser)  to outline what I've written so far, and what I already know is going to happen (or I think is going to happen).  It was like laying out a mosaic, moving pieces around to see where they fit best.  Now that I have a map to follow, I can rearrange some of what I've already got down on paper and fill in the blanks. 

When I wrote my first (still sold) mystery, I had a nice tidy outline; it ran about 4 pages long.  I can't begin to count the number of times I revised that outline, but it was a lot.  This time, I've decided to just let the writing flow and see where it gets me.  I'll outline at the end, to make sure the time line is consistent, but not before.  I have an idea of where I'm going, but I'm surprised by the turns my tale has taken.  The killer has changed completely!  My original villain is now a convenient dupe for the true murderer.  I was hardly aware of it until I wrote the chapter, but it makes perfect sense and fits the story so much better.  I have to wonder if that would have happened with an outline.

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