Friday, March 11, 2011

Where the Heck am I going?

Celebrate with me--I've just reached the stage in my new book when the end is in sight--I can see where the story is going and I KNOW I'LL BE ABLE TO FINISH IT!! Heavy sigh of relief.

Every book is the same tortured process--panic at beginning, worry until about page 150 then gathering momentum on the downhill slope to the finish line.
All this could be avoided if I could just outline the story in advance.

The problem is that I can't. I've tried. I can come up with a reasonably good outline for a story BUT it would be nothing like the story I'd end up with if I just let the book grow and develop. And if I had an outline, I'd feel obliged to follow it. Hence the book would not be as good.

Luckily I have wonderful editors who trust that I'll be able to come up with a book in the required length of time and don't demand to see a proposal. If they did want one it would say "she finds a body and then bad things happen to her."

So I have to let my characters stumble through their world, having things happen to them, meeting people I haven't anticipated, finding bodies where I least expected them and in the end it turns out that my characters (or is it my subconscious) knew pretty well where we were going.

Today on Jungle Red Writers , the group blog I belong to, mystery icon Carolyn Hart blogs about exactly this. She can't outline either... and you know, I don't think she's done too badly outlineless.

I hope to finish my first draft by the beginning of April. I'll keep you posted!


  1. I loathe, despise, and refuse to do outlines. And I don't write anything except blog posts and school papers! It's the school papers where I run into fits. The last time the professor demanded an outline, I had to write the paper first...and then do the outline.

  2. Hi Rhys,

    Your books are way to good for you to even think of starting to outline at this point in time. And they keep getting better and better.

    I just finished Bless the Bride and I thought it was your best Molly book yet. That little "event" at the end has gotten my curiosity up as to what Molly will encounter next.

    A book is really good when I get so involved in the story that I'm actually there. I loose all track of time. I'll be reading, at some point look at the clock and say, "Oh my, I've been reading for three hours." That is a good book and that is what happens when I read yours.


  3. Dear Rhys,

    Only a few month ago, I've read the first book of yours (Her royal spyness). Since then I've made my way through all the Georgie-books and now I'm half way through the Evans-stories (it´s not so easy to get these here in Germany, even in English). And I only can say: If you wrote all these wonderful stories without doing outlines, PLEASE don't start now! :-)


  4. I love your books. And I can't write with outlines either. Knowing that one of my favorite authors doesn't use them and still manages to write such great stories gives me hope. Do whatever works, I say, and it obviously works for you.