Ran out of Outline…. UM….

STARTING NaNoWriMo WITH AN INCOMPLETE OUTLINE: GOOD? BAD? NEITHER?

So, NaNoWriMo’s been fun. I’m at 75,800 words for the month, and I’ve now completely run out of outline to guide me. I didn’t manage to get the entire novel outlined in October, but when November started, I was pretty sure I had enough to get to me 50,000 words and beyond. That was what really mattered, I told myself, and I started writing.

It was the right decision, for me at least. (I firmly believe every writer is different and works differently, and has different preparation requirements.) But now I’m out of outline and I’m not quite sure where to take the ending of the novel. I have one evil sorcerer at large, and a plot to lure him to a specific place, a plot I think is really clever on the part of the character who came up with it. I know the plot will work and they’ll have the bad guy where they want him.

I don’t know whether to end the novel with the baddie’s death and/or capture, or whether to let him escape. His defeat would allow the second book in this new series to focus more on Herezoth’s war with rival kingdom Esclavay: that could work great. On the other hand, having the bad guy make it out from that ambush with a newly strengthened grudge against the heroes could be lots of fun too. No matter how it ends, this last ambush is connected to the rest of the major plot–it’s made possible by the outcome of previous events–so it’s a good ending point that’s not a cliffhanger, as long as I take the ambush all the way through to a definite end. (I’m not a fan of cliffhanger endings.) It will bring this story’s adventures full circle.

NOT KNOWING MY OWN ENDING

It’s fun to STILL not know, this late in the game, how the novel will end. I love the tension and the wonder and the excitement of all that could still occur.

Out of the possibilities I can see, they could both work well. They provide opportunities to continue the story of Herezoth’s war in ways I find equally appealing. If the bad guy survives, well, writing about a sorcerer bad guy is fun and familiar to me. On the other hand, to continue this new trilogy focusing on the war itself and less on stopping an evil sorcerer could be a really fun challenge, something new and exciting to attempt.

And maybe–who knows?–something will happen yet to completely change the entire set-up I have so far! So, I know my pace will slow substantially now, but that’s okay. I’ve won NaNoWriMo already, and it’ll be great to discover where this story goes!

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10 responses to “Ran out of Outline…. UM….

  1. Sounds like an amazing story! I can’t wait to hear more about it. Congratulations on your accomplishment 🙂

  2. I’m glad you’re having fun. I’ve found that even when I outline the ending, it never goes exactly according to plan. But as you suggest, it’s fun when you don’t know all the secrets – even when they are yours.

  3. I wrote an outline for my current novel, which I started at the end of September (it’s not a NaNo effort), and am now reaching the end, just past 80,000 words. The outline helped guide me most of the way, though the characters demanded that I veer from it as I neared the end. The ending I had outlined now feels cheap to me, so I have to figure out a new one. There are a number of ways in which I can go, but I have to think about this for a while, so I can choose the one that best fits all of the characters involved. It sounds like I’m in the same boat as you right now, at the end without an outline to guide me. It’s both exciting and frightening. 🙂

    I like outlines. I write much better when I have a strong outline to follow. But as I wrote this story, the characters took on personae of which I wasn’t fully aware when I wrote the outline. I had certain pictures in my head of them initially, but those pictures were incomplete, based on stereotypical roles. I learned who the characters were by writing their stories. Now, at the end, I have to do them all justice, keeping them all true to character with the ending I decide upon.

    Good luck with your ending!

    • same to you! I agree that it’s very important to do justice to all your characters. this was actually the first time I’ve ever used an outline, and my fifth novel, so I”m kind of surprised how groundless I’m feeling right now.

  4. Oh to be anywhere near an ending! Good on you Victoria.

  5. Huh, an outline before NaNoWriMo! That’s a great idea. Why the heck not?

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