|Supporting book structure with scaffolding
The opinion is divided about whether or not to create an outline for a creative writing project. Which side are you on and why?
The mentors of my “Write Your Memoir in 6 Months” course, Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D
., President of National Association of Memoir Writers, and Brooke Warner
of Warner Coaching call the outline “scaffolding.” This makes sense to me, for just as scaffolding supports the workers as they construct a building, scaffolding can support writers as they complete a writing project. Especially with chapters and book-length material, an outline—or scaffold—can assist with organizing your thoughts and thereby your writing. It can also show a writer what material was covered already and where to go from there.
The trouble I had, prior to this memoir course, was organizing my material. Which memories to keep in, which to leave out. What to write first, what to write next. And, of course, what does it all mean. Outlining first gave me a chance to think about my memoir in its entirety.
There are many ways to write outlines. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Some writers want lots of notes and guidance [like me]; some writers are more skeletal in their needs. Outlining allows some writers to write out whole scenes if the scenes come to the writer during the outlining process while other chapters can be simply memory prompts or ideas to be fleshed out later. Outlines keep writers moving forward in their work. But they are merely suggestions for the final product.
Outlines or scaffolds do not need to be followed to the letter. They are only starting points or “Dag-namit, where do I go from here?” type documents. Outlines can be changed in part or completely as the story develops in the writer’s mind.
Yes, outlines take time to write. It takes time for you to consider your memoir or novel as a whole, why you are writing it, and what you are trying to say through it. After all, Family—The Ties that Bind…And Gag!probably wasn’t written in a day. I wonder if Erma Bombeck used scaffolds to build her memoirs.