I have been charged by my writing mentor to produce an outline of my novel – not a synopsis – for our next meeting scheduled for the last week of May. Let’s ignore the aggravating possibility that this discussion might have to take place courtesy of Skype or might be cancelled altogether.
There are two basic kinds of writers. The first kind makes elaborate preparations for their writing. They complete research, make notes and annotate their findings as to where this fascination piece of information might be used in their novel and they make an outline. I say ‘make’ because if a synopsis is a snap-shot of who does what, where, to whom and when, then an outline is a precise promise of each scene’s place in the narrative, what that scene does ie, why it’s in the novel at all, who’s in the scene and where they are in their story by the end of the scene. I think. I’ve never written an outline during my entire writing life. Which might be why I’ve only had one genre novel published. I’m that second kind of writer who writes a great deal very quickly, all the time hoping all of my precious words will produce tension, climax and resolution and who has half a dozen drafts printed and strewn on her study floor. With no place to go.
I remember that, life-years ago in English Lit class, we made a graph-like chart of the happenings to the two lead characters in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. The rise in fortunes of one of the daughters, Elizabeth Bennet, crossed on the chart with a fall in the fortune of her elder sister Jane.
I have been advised to limit the narration of my WIP to two characters: ten year old Janet, living in a nissen hut and her uncle Ted, living in a Jacobean house in Hastings. (See photo which remains, whatever I do to edit it, too large, above.
I have come to the conclusion that, before I begin my outline, I will chart the early scenes of Ted’s story and those of Janet (Part I of the novel) on a graph. My aim is to construct a narrative structure balancing the two view points and reaching a decisive stage in the novel – referred to as The Climax of Act One on that annoying diagram called the Three Act Structure.
A worthy idea – which I will begin tomorrow.