The Importance of Outlining and Knowing the Characters

I’ve been working on Johnny Worthen’s 90 Day Novel Challenge (Read about it before he takes it down – he’s always changing stuff over there), and right now I’m really glad he suggests 30 days to do research, character sketches, and outlining. The best I can say is that my book is coming along. After writing some of the initial scenes, I found myself stuck, yet again. Thus, Johnny’s initial 30 days has taught me that I need this time to get to know my characters and discover their motivations, likes, dislikes and the calamities that can befall them. I’m realizing that for me, this preliminary work is important for my writing to be coherent and my characters to have the depth and consistency they need. There are no shortcuts here. This stuff must be done in order for me to truly move forward. Maybe some folks can keep all this straight in their heads, but I’m not one of them, and my biggest challenge in writing is keeping track of all the details about people places and things, in addition to the flow of the plot and the obstacles that befall the characters.

Scapple Love
Scapple Love

I feel like in my pre-heavy-metal-poisoning-life this keeping-track-of-stuff was a lot easier for me to do, but that was then, this is now. I must deal with what is. Thank heaven for technology. Without Scrivener I’d be doomed. Since I heard Johnny’s recommendation for Literature and Latte’s other program, Scapple (the giant whiteboard in the sky), things have gotten so much better, not just in my writing world, but in my church responsibilities, and my efforts to be a responsible and helpful parent.

PLUS, PROGRESS, YES! I’ve outlined to about the midpoint in my novel. I can see where I’ve got some problems with the plot that I need to address, and where I need to torment my characters more. I’m also learning more about my characters and their unique perspectives on the world. I always had a hard time thinking of this stage as actual writing, but it’s part of the creative process, and I need to learn to wallow in the wonderfulness of this element of discovery, without thinking that I’m cheating somehow. It’s not always word-count that matters.

I say that, but in the process of all this, one discovery I’ve made is that taking the time to write anything  will spark my creativity and get the juices flowing so I can keep moving forward. And so blogging. Go me.

And thus, I arrive at the dinner hour and time to feed the creatures. Tonight I’ll curl up with a book knowing that tomorrow’s a new day to build upon the work of today.

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