I am fighting with a plot outline, again. I definitely feel it should be Perfect. It should Contain Everything. It should, essentially, be the book in microcosm so I don’t have to do all that tedious wrestling with bits that turn out not to work when you get half-way through them, because I have a precise guide to keep me on track. This will save time!
My editorial self wants to know in advance that this wheeze is gonna work out.
Unfortunately I’ve never stuck to a self-made plot outline in my life. Writing for packagers or adapting TV material to fit a book format are rather different affairs. As is dishing out plot outlines to other people.
Material originating in my own head goes its own way and generally ends up only tenuously related to the original seed. I have always accepted this previously. It’s not like I have no clue about how books are structured or am unwilling to rewrite as much as necessary.
But now I am applying the hard eye of logic. If one cannot get the plot outline perfect the book is doomed! Because it certainly won’t work in 70,000 words if it doesn’t in 700!! I think.
Is starting a book that isn’t perfected in outline folly because you are ignoring the problems, or is writing the book itself a means of allowing the problems to sort themselves out? The answer as usual is, depends on the book, but how to know…