Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Book on Story Outlining for Authors Who Hate Outlining

Authors along one axis vary from those who outline their stories before they write them to "discovery" writers (also called "pantsers"), who find their story by writing it. My first novel, Fisher King: Percival's Descent, was mostly an act of discovery.

I wanted to up my storytelling game for the sequel, Fisher King: Dancing Lance, and I've found myself floundering trying to write the eighth chapter because I'm not sure where the story goes in the near term.

That's why I read Million Dollar Outlines by New York Times bestselling author David Farland. I'm going to make a counterintuitive claim: authors who hate outlining should read this book anyway. Why? The book is 95% about storytelling and only 5% about the process of outlining.

For example, Farland spends much of a chapter on exploring the question of "Why do people like to read stories (or in the cases of movies and TV, watch them).?" One common claim is that people read to relax, which is counterintuitive because good stories are emotionally stimulating. The relaxation, it turns out, comes after the climax, where the stimulation (again, in satisfying story) has peaked and fallen off.

I think a discovery writer can take the numerous elements of storytelling Farland discusses and simply add them to their collection of storytelling tools.

Whether you outline or not, I think reading this book will deepen and broaden your understanding of storytelling, so I recommend it as a good read.