By Connie S. Hall
When traveling an unfamiliar road most of us need a map. That’s also true when we’re writing. We don’t want to get our readers hopelessly lost so we need to know where we’re going. Every story needs a beginning with characters, setting, and problems. Then along comes the middle with lots of details, description, and dialogue. In the ending of the story, we all know there has to be a solution.
I don’t always plan my stories this way. I hate to outline, and sometimes I spin out of control, the same as I do when driving down a dry road and all of a sudden hit black ice. Sometimes I can’t find a solution to the corner I’ve written myself into, and I know it’s my own fault.
Last week I hit a long patch of black ice and slid off the road. I even had several warnings that it would happen. My husband called to caution me about the treacherous road ahead, and several men were standing along the road warning the motorists of the upcoming danger. By the time I hit the ice I was only traveling about 5 mph, but I still slid. I was lucky because my car didn’t go through the fence or hit anything. I could see others sliding and I was a bit concerned so it took me awhile to get enough courage to continue on my way.
Since this experience, I’ve tried to come up with a better writing plan. I’ve had many warnings that I should use an outline. At workshops I’ve attended, the teachers tell us to use one. I’m stubborn and still hate the idea, and I continue to paint myself into a corner. When a writing idea hits me, my fingers won’t wait for me to outline.
After typing several pages of my newest story, I can tell I need to sit back and take a hard look at what I’ve written. I have the story in my head, but I need to develop the characters and setting more. Maybe now’s the time to put together a good outline. I know it’s not the ideal time, but at least maybe this time I’ll keep myself going down the right road, and won’t spin out of control.