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Archive for September, 2013

First draft of outline is done. Even though it sounds humorous, it’ll probably not end that way. Now it’s on to the next step – back to characters. I have an idea of who’ll be in the story and I have the names of those in the immediate family plus a few friends. It’s time to flesh them out, but I will only concentrate on the family. Characters have a mind of their own. Who you think will stick with the main character won’t and those who were only supposed to stick around for awhile may become major players. I had a pair of bullies, who bullied me into sticking around around to the end of the book and beyond. They were just too interesting to let go.
With my characters I’ll flesh them out as much as to give a skeleton of a personality. Things will change according to what crops up. The unexpected always pops up to twist with fate. Here I just want an idea and as I go, I’ll add to it so I don’t forget what I said earlier in the story about the person. What I’ve done in the past is create a page or a table and start listing my characters. This may or may not include a brief description which may or may not include a physical description. For some reason I’m not big on that. For me it’s not that important.
Libby – high school student, laid back, lazy a bit. Likes to go with the flow and has few interests other than listening to music (she can’t carry a tune), and architecture (she takes bad pictures of buildings and has a collage of them on her wall). While the whole even shakes her up to the core she is equipped to handle the situation.
Dave – Libby’s brother, older, very anal, serious, and plans his life to the smallest detail.

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In order to create my outline I need the right summary. After two miss starts, I settle on one that’s not perfect, but will do. It may change anyway and that is all okay.
Sixteen-year-old, Libby is alone when a horrific storm destroys her home leaving her battered and bruised. With the house in ruins she goes looking for her brother, then her parents who work nearby and finds no one, not a soul, except a bird, a horse, and a fox. She sets out to find everyone ending up in the city, where she finds out this wasn’t an ordinary storm, but a major event.
Okay, so this doesn’t go into a lot of detail, but it’s better and it gives some direction where I’m going.
My outline, the first one, is really basic. It will only list the events that take place and it won’t even touch on all of them because I haven’t thought of all of them yet. And everything is subject to change.
1. At home, alone, thank goodness, and listening to the iPod
2. The storm. There’s a storm?
3. House around my ears.
4. Where is everyone?
5. I have company if that’s what you want to call it.
6. Leaving town.
7. Spooky countryside
8. Something
9. The city. Is this where I really want to be?
etc. etc.
I can fill out the each one later on when I do the chapters. The ‘something’ is there because I know I need another step, but I don’t have anything just yet.
Reading this, it sounds like a humor piece and it just may end up that way. Will it be first person or third? I don’t know. For the story I’m writing I had the outline as first person even though I knew it would be in third. I only wanted to give some bones to my story and help me with the chapter summaries.

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Now that I had my characters, I’d written what my story was going to be about. It went something like this:
After a devastating storm comes, Libby is left alone and lost, she goes looking for the rest of the family.
It’s a great start, a good opener, it works okay as a book summary, but it won’t work with starting my outline. This paragraph is for me to use to flesh out my story. It’s off to the drawing board to create something that includes what happens next. What I wrote will get me started. I could get bogged down trying to figure out what will happen to Libby. I end up with something like this:
Sixteen-year-old, Libby, is alone in her house waiting for her brother to come home. He’s late and he was supposed to be here two hours ago. Since she’s listening to her iPod, she doesn’t hear the weather warnings, etc, etc.
I just went from too little to way too much. As I looked at my summary paragraph I thought, this is hard. At least I now know that I need to improve and how to do it. I can use part of this to go in my first chapter.
On my third try, I had it down. Not only that, but I could see my story evolving into something a little different, and a little better.
So far my adventure is turning out to be interesting and good practice for my writing. Now on to my next step: writing a basic outline.

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I have my idea, unfleshed out, in my head. I want to start my outline. What do I do first? Give the characters name. I can’t do anything until I’ve done that. Out comes the books Names Through the Ages, one of my favorite books for names. It has names from the British Isles and France. I never use the French ones. Then I have my list from behindthenames.com. I scan through the names waiting for them to pop out and yell ‘this is the one’. I need a name for the main character and I need a name for her siblings. Some times just bubble up from within, such as the name of two school friends.
Names written down, it’s time to write the paragraph that will define the book. This is like a summary of the book, but more to give me an idea of the main character and what will happen. I already have the feel of the character so why do I need to write it down? Probably because I don’t know how all this is going to end. I have an idea, but it’s not really there. It’s out there in the ozone, hazy and distant.
I write my paragraph and it certainly doesn’t look like much. Right away it tells me that I haven’t thought much about what’s going to happen and how the main character is going to change. More drama is needed, more conflict. I still don’t know if outlining will help me, but this writing down a summary paragraph looks like it will.

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