Saturday, July 24, 2010


Some writers like to outline what they write before they write it. I'm not one of them.

I like to write for the same reason I like to read: to see what happens next. I like to go for a ride and I don't enjoy it if I know every twist and turn of the road.

When I was trying to finish my first novel manuscript (henceforth referred to as The Book You'll Never Read), I outlined it. Gone was the joy of discovery, and most of the fun of writing. Each chapter became a step toward the goal of ending the book rather than the joy of travel. For me at least, the outline was a set of railroad tracks as opposed to the open road. I like the open road; I might not take the off ramp to every interesting spot along the way...but having the option is freedom.

I love freedom.

I did find one key--a key on the keyboard--the liberal use of which makes not outlining possible. I'm never afraid to use that key if I don't like where my ride went.

The key?



Jeffrey Miller said...

I'm not big on outlines either, but I do write out a lot of notes; I am always thinking about writing and when I can't get to my computer I am making notes to myself--writing them on scraps of paper, tissue--anything.

When the Muse has got something for me it's not always when I am in front of my computer.

For my novel, I needed some outline, but only to keep track of historical events.

David J. Steele said...

Love the dialog! Ours, I mean...

I keep a digital voice recorder with me, mostly for medical reasons, but sometimes I make book notes in it.

I'm glad you have a muse, and I hope your muse is more pleasant than mine. Mine is a tall, lanky, bearded dude in a stained white gown. He has a long, greasy beard and wears his hair in corn rows.

In his hands is either a half-eaten grilled cheese sandwich...or a bent tennis racket. You can guess how he bent the tennis racket.

His name is Ralph, and I wouldn't trade him for the world.

Jeffrey Miller said...

I have a digital voice recorder too, but I'm a much better paper and pen kind of guy when it comes to notes. Sometimes I carry a couple index cards in my pocket.

Muses? Well, you know how much I like Xanadu.

David J. Steele said...

Xanadu! I like two things about that movie: Olivia Newton John's legs.

I'm glad my muse isn't an attractive woman in a short skirt, on roller skates. ...I'd end up writing porn.

It was fleeting, but I did find the "real" Xanadu. It was a Hooters restaurant in San Diego. The servers were all on roller skates. The wings weren't the only hot things in the joint...

Jeffrey Miller said...

And speaking of porn in a very literary and classical way, when I was in a graduate school back in 87-89, I met and one summer worked along side of a descendant of John Cleland. Yes that John Cleland of Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure fame. For all you non-literary types out there, that book is also known as Fanny Hill.

The story gets better. This descendant's brother was a writer and writing, of all things pornographic novels in of all places Mexico City.

Right about now you are probably thinking to yourself, "Dude, you've got to write something about this!

This guy's brother came to my 18th Century Novel class and gave a talk on writing.

Wow, I haven't thought about this in years. Thanks Sexton Chronicles!