Advice

Read Your Outline To Someone Now

Take you novel outline. Print it out or put it on the Cloud, whatever you need to do to have it in hand.

Find a person, another living person of some type, in whom you have some modicum of trust.

Sit them down. Get them nice and comfy. Bribe them with whatever it takes. It is very important they stay in place. Restraints may prove necessary but some finesse will prevent that. Great works have been written in jail, but great people have also been stabbed in jail. It’s a bit of a toss-up.

Now, read your outline to them. Or have them read the outline if they aren’t the auditory type. Get that information in their head, and make them give you their opinion. Ask if everything makes sense. If it doesn’t, work with them to make it do so.

Do it now, before you end up writing twelve thousand words of shit that, upon closer inspection, is actually dumb as all fuck. Do it now, before massive swathes of plot need to be painstakingly rearranged, all because one event radiates out like the shockwaves of the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. Do it now, because a story is a delicate ecosystem of plot, character, and theme; when one goes down, the whole thing shudders.

Do it now, because, being outsiders to your vision, they can see the things you’re too deeply immersed to see. Do it now, because they don’t care about ‘making the story work’ or that you’ve been tearing your hair out trying to get every event you wanted onto the page.

Do it now, because nothing is as discouraging as presenting fully-written, beautifully crafted prose, and having someone say ‘well that seems stupid,’ because you didn’t realize you had overlooked something. I’m not talking little paragraph rewrites or tonal adjustments, I’m talking about reworking an entire ending, an entire swathe of character development, the very bones of your backstory, so that your story doesn’t crumble the first time a serious look is taken.

Do it now, and, because this person is your friend, they’ll be happy to help.

This advice piece is in no way, no sir, inspired by real true difficulties I’m having with my novel at this very moment. It’s just a thought piece with no basis in the reality of fiction writing that I have experienced in my time.

Now, gentle reader, if you’d be kind enough to excuse me, I have to get back to work. Entire sections of this outline won’t rewrite themselves.

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