Tag Archives: outline

Setting Time & Place

lordy. I said I was going to start posting again, then gave you nothing but radio silence. Rude.

So today, I sat down and planned out posting ideas for 4 days a week. That’s right – new material from Laura 4 days a week. The other three days? I don’t know yet.

Today is, of course, Tidbit Tuesday over in my writing group. But I don’t want to drop some lines on you and run. I want interactions. I crave our interactions. So what I propose, is that I share these beautiful ten (or so) lines that have been cut – and the inspiration/research/resources behind them.

First, the lines:

Well, that didn’t go as planned. I realized, as I am digging through all my links and files, that I never actually wrote the scene I wanted to talk about today. How embarrassing. See, I had this half-decent outline and a BRILLIANT character sketch going, one where I really got to know Sarah and Stratford. Then I sat down to write, and Sarah was like, nope. So, we threw all that out. And started over. I tossed the Little Red Riding Hood theme because she refused to play along. And between you and I, I much prefer the Sarah she revealed herself to be.

Here, by the way, is the outline section I wanted to share:

  1. Open Image: Dooley Cottage, Portsmouth – drawing room – April 3, 1812
  2. Sarah is reading a paper, specifically about an event which will seal time/place
  3. Mention of Lord Byron’s first two Cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which sold out in 5 days – she looks to her copy, lying atop RHoD
  4. Flippant remark to her companion, a mangy looking cat that she rescued from a hunting trap
  5. Toss a comment to maid about setting up a basket for that nice Mrs. Dickens
  6. Little Charlie must be close to two months now, Mary.
  7. Perhaps I shall drop in, deliver the basket myself.
  8. Mourning attire mentioned casually
  9. Her lavender muslin was not enough to ward off the chill, even with the fire built up
  10. 10. Fingering the small keepsake from Nan

As you can see, I was going to talk about specific events which happened prior to, or around, the time this scene took place – the birth of Charles Dickens and the publication of Lord Byron. And with those two (relatively) minor occurrences, I would have been able to fully ground the reader in the time and place.

If you are familiar with Regency Era mourning clothing, you might have known what the significance of the lavender gown was. Perhaps not.

By the way, please forgive the formatting. I assure you that in Word, it is a properly formatted outline. It just didn’t translate well to WordPress, lol.

So, that is how I prefer to ground readers in time and place – by subtly planted clues. I’ve also been known to just plant a date at the top of a scene, but sometimes, that feels like cheating to me.

(And I even managed 10 lines that have been cut, just not what you were expecting, lol).

How do you ground readers into the time and place of your novel?

So this is where we are…

It just keeps happening. Fellow writers, tell me you’ve been there before: you have an idea, you have a vague outline, and you start writing only to find that your writing keeps changing, evolving…

I refuse to believe I am the only one this has happened to.

Why do I feel that it happened? Quite simply because I had a great concept that I ran with rather than taking months to plan it out. And I’m totally cool with the way things are going. It means I haven’t been stuck in the planning process, but have also been working on my writing. My talent isn’t growing stagnant while I prep. So yeah, I’m OK with that.

So here’s how it went. I was lying in bed last night and some questions about the male lead in my current work popped into my head. I used my handy new phone (got myself an iPhone 5s), pulled up a Google Docs…and noted them all down. And then I answered them. And, as usually happens, the more questions I answered, the more were raised.

Let’s be honest, asking and answering these questions is one of the first steps of writing. It’s all part of that ‘planning’ I mentioned. And I suck at it. When I sit down to set out those questions, I have none.

It’s not that I’m a ‘pantser’ over a ‘planner’, but rather that I, personally, need to combine them to be successful. Does this mean that I will occasionally be starting over or chucking large bits of my writing? Absolutely. Again, I am OK with this.

What I’ve written so far is really, really good. But I didn’t like the way the story was headed so I am refocusing on it. As my husband pointed out, I’m writing because I have to rather than because I’m selling it… I have time.

So where does that leave us? Not exactly back at point A. I have a foundation; the bones. What I’m looking at is how I can change the outline I already have to accommodate the new ideas. Not Point A, but Point A.5?

I’ll let you know how it goes… and yes, I will continue to share discarded materials.


I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have never been very good at plotting. An idea will form, oftentimes enough of an idea to actually make something, but then my mind gets stuck. I may have an idea of a beginning or an end, perhaps even both, but I don’t have a clue about the in-between. So I’m always reading up on plotting. There are a ton of books out there, but I’m a minimum wage monkey. I don’t have a lot of extra cash for writing books. I’ll get them for my Kindle app if they’re free, but if they cost… On the wish list they go.

Today, I have found two helpful blogs, each with distinctly different plotting styles. Is it bordering on insane/redundant to try them both? I seriously hope not! And let’s be honest – I’m doing it regardless.

I am starting with the plotting technique of Rachel Aaron. I admit that I’m not familiar with her work, but I do hope to check her out soon. To me, her plotting technique is a lot of listing. You work through several steps (5, as the title suggests) of lists/free writing. Or am I the only one who creates lists when free writing? Regardless, so far I am really liking this style.

I was prompted to do a description of the home of Princess Elixabeth, as I blogged before. What I have so far is not complete, not by any means. Quite a bit of it is not as descriptive as I want but it was more a form of “free writing”. I am going to share it, even unfinished. Look for that later – I love writing prompts when they actually get something going. I despise them when they make me stop and stare at the wall.

All of this begs the question though, how much of your pre-writing do you, as a writer, share? By which I mean plotting, character development, etc…

I love hearing from you, so please share your thoughts!