It Flows From an Outline: Then What?

Hello Lovely Readers!

I’ve officially passed the 1/4 completion marker on my novel and pushed on to 28K words. I will hit 30K by tomorrow with the end goal being 100K. I can’t explain how, nor why I’ve been able to pump out so much, but suffice it to say that I am quite pleased.

When in flow, do not question it’s origin.

Speaking of flow, I have to admit that the very thing I pushed myself away from on a previous project, I actually DID on this one:

An outline. 

No, not the I.i. A.a. type of outline. That’s like beating me in the head with a baseball bat. The mere THOUGHT of it locks my world into a procedural nightmare from which there is no escape; the eternal pit of writer’s block damnation. It even makes Frank spill his coffee. And that’s worse.

Besides, he hates em, too.

HOWEVER, lovely readers, I found a way that worked for me, which is why I write this blog tonight:

Outlines – paragraph style . Paragraphical outlines; My word.

It came to me one morning while sharing coffee with Frank. It was a nice, sunny summer day in Vancouver just a few weeks ago. I had just sat down to write ‘something’, when Frank demanded a Romance. I’ve written about that already, so I won’t go into detail here.

However, once I chose to take the challenge, I wrote the opening line to The Willows and then heard my ideal reader ask, “Then what?”

Well, this lit me up. It’s the very same process I used to build my coaching practice. In fact, I like it so much I shared it with other coaches, too. Here’s how it works: you write out what it is that you do, then explain how you do it. Step by step, always asking, “Then what?” until there is no more ‘what’ left.

So, after answering Frank’s ‘then what’ question, I found that I had to explain my answer. Something like, “Tomas sits on the bench pondering his life, trying to figure out what he is going do now that his father has passed away and left him The Willows.”

“Then what?” Frank asked. I answered.

“Then what?” Frank asked. I answered, each time in the form of a small, descriptive paragraph.

“Then what?” Frank asked, sipping coffee and watching my creative juices overflow with excitement.

“Then what?” Frank asked, and I wrote, “The End.”

I leaned back, wiping sweat from my brow, and tears from my eyes. I lived the entire story in just under two hours, and the proof was there in a multitude of paragraphs. So much so, that I THEN wrote the entire ending to a book I had yet to write – only its outline.

And you know what? I think it’s pretty good.

So, in honor of Frank’s amazing question, I offer it to you as well. When deciding what you will be writing about by asking the magical question, “What if?”  Why not follow it up with, “Then what?” and continue onward until you reach, “The End.”

Even better, especially if you are not a procedural by-the-book outliner like me, put the answers into a descriptive paragraph and see what happens. Who knows? You might just fall into the flow of creative juice and before you know it, be swept away into the magical land where novels live.

What if that were to happen?

Then what?

Mhmmm. I Thought you’d like it.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, my lovely reader. Wherever your horizons beckon…

-Stephen R. Gann

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  1. #1 by Libby Cole Author on August 24, 2015 - 9:23 pm

    Congratulations on bashing out so many words! Hopefully it keeps flowing.

  2. #2 by Stephen R. Gann on August 25, 2015 - 10:38 am

    Thank you Libby Cole! Not only will, but has. Even better, is that they are ‘good’ words, not just fluff to fill space. The only time I notice the dreaded count is when I upload the final save and see. Ultimately, the story will be finished when it says it is. When Tomas and Simone are pleased, when Frank is happy… so will I. Cheers! -SRG

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