I have a special announcement to make. For the first time, ever, in my entire life, I’m writing a novel based on an outline.

That’s right. An outline. Something that implies organization. Pre-planning. Vision. Or perhaps more terrifyingly, something that DOES not imply pantsing my entire way through three-hundred plus pages.

No, I don’t have a fever. (Unless you’re talking about Bieber Fever, and that was totally forced upon me by Stephanie Kuehn and her Write Night avatars of death. You might be happy to know that I’ve posted so much in my private writing forum—like the kind I talk about here—that I’ve bypassed the Mr. Never Say Never avi in favor of that dude who asked his date if she likes daggers.)

Wait, what were we talking about again? Oh, right: outlines. So, I’m working from an outline. And I’m super excited. I’m super excited, until I sit down at the computer, poise my fingers over the keyboard, and realize…holy crap, I’M WRITING FROM AN OUTLINE.  That means writing my scenes in order. Or at least, I’m telling myself it does. I mean, it’s probably sacrilegious to write out of order when you have the map to your entire book right there, flashing you with those big, professional-looking chapter headings.

But I can do this. I can write my scenes in order. So, I sit down at my computer again, poise my fingers over the keyboard, and realize…holy crap, I’M WRITING ABOUT A REAL PLACE THIS TIME, not a fictional town that exists only in my brain. A fictional town where any detail I provided was exactly correct because I got to make that junk up as I went.

In fact, the very first scene takes place in a real establishment, which takes place in a real city. Cool…all except the part where I’ve never been to this particular establishment before. This could present a slight problem. What if I say the wallpaper is purple with orange Ho-Hos, when really it’s pink with lime green Twinkies?  The last thing I want to do is anger the locals because I jacked up their wallpaper in my book (though, if Neon Hostess is the wallpaper of choice there, I really think they need to direct their energy elsewhere).

How do all you writers who write about real places do it?  Do you own private Jets?  Possess super spy skills?  Have lots and lots of friends with cameras?

I will figure this out. Eventually. In the meantime, I have the oddest craving for brightly colored snack foods. Sno balls, anyone?


And also–I posted this on facebook the other day, but it makes me smile, so I’m posting it here, too.  I often type while on the bed, and this is what Fergie and Skye do next to me:

Snuggle Buddies

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7 Responses to “In which I talk about outlining (eek!), using real places for settings, and Hostess snack foods”

  1. Yahong Chi Says:

    Yay, snuggle buddies! I lurve your doggies.
    Writing about real places… hm, I’ve heard that some writers look up travel guides, and Google Maps, maybe? (Though that sounds very creepy and stalker-ish.) I avoid this all by writing about places I know. But places that are interesting, like a horse stable, in the hopes that people think me a varied and cultured person. ;)

  2. Amanda Hoving Says:

    An outline? Eek, is right!

    Actually, I’m turning more into a plotter than a pantser myself…scary. And admittedly helpful at times.

    Good luck!

  3. JennW Says:

    hahaa – yay – i wrote my current WIP from an outline. My first time ever. It makes life SO MUCH EASIER. But, it’s damn hard to write the outline too. Arg. Anyhow, congrats on outlining and yay for writing new stuff. Ew on Snowballs – never liked those, though the guy in my WIP eats Twinkies all the time.:p

  4. houndrat Says:

    Thanks Yahong–my girls ARE pretty cute when they aren’t being naughty. Which is about 50% of the time. ;) And I LOVE Google Maps for research–I’ve used it a ton so far. Alas (or actually–THANK GOODNESS!) Google Maps doesn’t provide any photos of building interiors, only exteriors.

    Amanda–good luck with the plotting!

    Jenn–totally agree that outlining is tough! Also, I’m not really a huge Sno ball fan either, but I used to LOVE those little fried pies. Mmmm….

  5. Kaitlin Says:

    Do you like daggers? ;)

    I love outlining. I’ve written both ways, and I think I’m more successful when I outline.
    Kaitlin recently posted..RTW- Favorite Literary Couples

  6. Melanie Says:

    great post, houndrat! maybe one day i will become brave like you and try an outline for one of my wips. one day when i’m all growed up :D . in the meantime, i will have to accept that i’m still a pantser. it’s just how i roll. for now. yum-OH on the snowballs *runs to pantry to steal kids’ snacks*

    your dogs are so sweet!!!!!!! how can you not be inspired to write with that in front of you? :D

  7. Stephanie Kuehn Says:

    Oh, goodness. You are too funny. And you will rock that outline. I have complete faith in that.
    Stephanie Kuehn recently posted..Oh- here go hell come

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