Thursday, September 13, 2007


Ronda asked: "I'm curious. Do you outline first, or start writing as it comes?"

Well, it really all depends.

When I'm writing a historical, I always have a timeline in front of me so I can keep track of when the war started and when the certain battle took place, etc. That is the only thing that's set in stone, because you can't diverge too far from actual history. (Although I keep trying.) I have never sat down and done a complete outline because things just don't go the way I first envision them. Characters behave in ways I never thought they would -- ornery things! I tried for three weeks to make one character fall in love with the other guy, and she simply would not do it. Finally I had to rewrite the whole book, and then she was happy.

As I'm thinking things through, I make notes to remind myself what I decided to do. But as far as a chapter-by-chapter outline, no, I never have.

There are a lot of authors who find that an outline really works for them. But I'm more of what is known as an "organic" writer, which means that I feel my way through with my gut. I always know basically how I want the story to go, but then I have to sit back and watch as it takes on a life of its own. I can either fight it or go with the flow, and I've learned that if I fight, it's just a waste of time. I'll end up losing anyway.


Don said...

Tristi, I have a question about the subject of diverging from history.

As a writer of Historical Fiction, how do you decide when to stick to the facts, and when to make stuff up?

I know there are no hard and fast rules, but what guidelines do you follow?

Katie Parker said...

As for outlining or following your instincts, I do both. I outline, and I know where the story starts and how things end up.

Then I follow my instincts, and they usually take the story somewhere else.

Anna Maria Junus said...

I've thought about outlining, but I've never done it.

I like to write the way someone reads. I'm very linear. Start at the beginning and go to the end. I have scenes in my head, but I don't write them until I get to them.

I've even written mystery stories this way. I don't know who the guilty person is until the end and somehow it's all magically tied up.

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