Everyday that I pull my outline out of my totebag to update, I keep repeating the words of my online instructor, "It's better to rewrite and rewrite while you're outlining. Better to get the story clear and concise in the outline form than to find yourself stuck midway through a manuscript." Deep down I have faith that this is true. The more clear that my story is becoming to me, I clearly see why I ran into the brick wall in the latter part of 2010. Sure, my idea was HOT! I had no doubt about that. Problem was I hadn't spent any time developing that HOT idea into a well-structured story. When I started writing, I still had the characters from my first novel, Unfinished Business, stuck in my head--I'd been writing it so long, they were encased in me. Let me explain. My upcoming novel, Reconciliation to Hell, is a spinoff of Unfinished Business. The main character in the second book was a secondary character in the first book. However, I was into the third chapter of Reconciliation to Hell when I realized that I was still writing in the voice of the main character from the first book! And believe me when I tell you that these characters are complete opposites!
Anyway, as frustrating as this process has been over the last few weeks, I wouldn't trade it for the world. In fact, I'm looking forward to applying this outlining process to the many unfinished articles that I have started and stopped over the years. They're some really great ideas that just need a little developing.
I only wish that I'd started working on this darn outline like five years ago while I was preparing to publish my first book. I'm sure I'd be ready to write right about now, if not near finished with the first draft. Oh well, you live and you learn, right?
Tell me your experience. How does or doesn't outlining work for you? Do you complete your entire outline before you start writing? Is the outline a work in progress as you write the manuscript?
Update: I'll be in that hotel this weekend with or without a completed outline! Either way it goes, this weekend will be a writing-filled weekend and I can't wait!!!