Sunday, September 15, 2013

Outlines. Why I Hate Them & Why I Made One.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have just realized something extraordinarily life-changing. Pokemon are not getting uglier. Those of us born to generations Red and Blue have simply grown older. We're jaded. We're like the angry old man who sits on the porch and shakes his fist at kids who get too close to his lawn of 150 original, perfect blades of grass. While I pity the seven-year-old who excitedly begins his first Pokemon adventure with X and Y, who am I to tell him that he's doing it wrong? A sentimental old fool who begins every battle with "Back in the day we played our Pokemon in black and white, two-dimensional peace. I think that's what heaven will be like some...TURN DOWN THAT DUBSTEP NONSENSE!"

So that's my nerd rant. I should probably talk about writing now to redeem myself a bit.

I wrote an outline! Resentfully and with some help from my Absolut friend, I wrote it! This might not sound like some grand achievement to most of you, but let me explain. I haven't written an start-to-finish outline for anything other than school papers. Even back then I only wrote them if they were being collected for a grade. I do not outline. Plain and simple. I prefer to write things as they come to me, living in the moment just like my character does. Yes, it's a bit reckless and has gotten me into a fair share of (long) writer's blocks, but I hate laying out the entire story before it happens. I enjoy sharing that 'what now' moment with my character and I feel that it lends to the believability of the story.

So what was different about this time, you ask? Well, put simply, it's complicated. There are too many elements that I have to juggle and I'm not familiar enough with any of said elements to neglect a single one. As I've mentioned before, I looooove research because a story's integrity and believability are very high on my priority list. I'm learning some hardcore hacking and coding, digging into subdivisions of the CIA with limited public access, crosschecking facts with professional and basically setting myself up for a fun conversations with the NSA. It's a lot. So the other night as I sat there surveying the mess in front me I realized how easily something could get lost in the pages to come--something including me.

Thus, the outline was born.

It took four hours and sixteen pages (I don't mess around with my bullet points) AND IT IS MAGNIFICENT. That said, however, I will strive to never write another outline as long as I live. It will be helpful to me as the story progresses, yes, and it's not set in stone or anything, yes, but my God I cried at least twice! Spoilers! Spoilers everywhere! I feel like I've completely ruined the story for myself. It's not a journey anymore, it's a game of connect the dots.

Do I regret outlining? A bit, yeah, but at the same time I feel like I can focus more on writing the story now and less about getting my facts in place. I guess it's a double-edge sword. Outlines make stories easier in the long run and help keep writers out of ruts, but if you're weird like me it isn't always worth it. I'm sure things will change as I write and the story may even end up going in completely different directions. For now, though, I'm off to play a game of connect the dots.

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