In my previous post “Story autopsy – The problems” I mentioned that my fourth main problem was about writing style. Essentially, the problem seems to be that I like to outline; but when I get to writing, I often continue by the seat of my pants. That isn’t a problem for everyone. There are plenty of writers that use that particular style successfully. My problem is that mixing styles like that tends to get me lost over time.
When I am in the throes of writing, I might come up with and idea that I just love and seems to fit perfectly with the story. Of course I go with the idea, but hunting down and changing all the entries in the outline to keep it up to date are time consuming. Still, in an effort to keep everything organized, I will do it. But after I do that two or three times, I tend to lose track of what I have changed.
Now I know that it wouldn’t be a problem to lose track of the changes if I were to just reread the outline. After all, I have faithfully kept the outline up to date. The problem then is that the outline is so long that I don’t want to read it unless I need to.
After all, I can’t be so forgetful that I would forget the changes I have made to the story over time.
Oh, never mind. I actually can be that forgetful.
By the afternoon, I can forget what changes I made that morning.
The solution that presents itself is to change the way that I outline.
Perhaps, it should be thought of as doing away with traditional outlining all together. I hope to write more about this in the future; but for now, lets keep the scope on the first solution that I am trying.
I have created a file with three major headings: beginning, middle, and ending. Under each of those headings can be various subheadings. These should form the major points of my story. I am hoping to keep each major heading to only three subheadings. If I go over that number of headings, it won’t be a catastrophe, as long as the entire file is kept short enough to read in just a few minutes.
This solution has been easy to implement using LibreOffice. If you use the title and headings (Heading 1, Heading 2, …, etc.) that are provided with LibreOffice, you will be able to easily find the spot you are looking for by using the “Navigator” function (F5 key or by clicking on the Navigator icon).
Note that this isn’t just a way to organize my outline better. The idea is to replace my working outline with only the major points of the story in a format that can be easily reviewed as often as necessary. That might be several times a day the way my memory works. The idea is to use this short file as a way to keep the story on track so that it doesn’t become several separate, disjointed stories with no connection to one another because there have been too many revisions.