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I’m taking a break from Waking up Jack Thunder to write a new flash fiction piece. However, in a daring departure from my normal routine, I decided to leap into the story WITHOUT an outline. 


I know what you’re thinking. This can’t be true. Jon won’t even start a shopping list without consulting a map of the store so he can write things down in the order he'll find them on the shelves. 


What can I say? I’m a radical guy, and sometimes I like to take a walk on the wild side, so I just wrote the first thing that came into my head and went from there. 


Here’s what I’ve got so far:


'On the rare occasions when I’m unable to avoid physical confrontation, my somewhat unorthodox combat style results in a quick victory. After few body blows, followed up with a couple of jabs to the fist with my nose or chin, it’s all over. 

In short, I’m not the kind of guy you want at your side in a fight – unless you need someone to hold your coat. Which is why I was amazed to discover that Patrick ‘Masher’ McNab, the toughest, meanest kid on the block, had told everyone he was afraid of me.' 


What’s the story about? Your guess is as good as mine.  I have no idea what to do next.


I don’t even have a title!


This is an exercise in blind faith, in which I hope my sub-conscience helps me out over the next week or two.   


How about you? 

Do you ever try writing in a different way?

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( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 21st, 2009 12:46 pm (UTC)
A couple of times I decided to something very much like a writing-group exercise, where I looked at artwork and wrote a flash piece based on it. I'd say I've tried this about a half-dozen times, and gotten two stories out of it that I liked. One was published at Every Day Fiction.

The only time I've ever outlined a story was my longest Star Trek one, which is also the only story I've ever contracted before it was written. It was 10K words, and I found the whole process a bit intimidating, so outlining really helped in that case. The outline also allowed me to write out of order, which I think was important considering the length and the deadline, so I didn't get hung up on any one part for too long.
Oct. 21st, 2009 12:55 pm (UTC)
For me, outlining (my version, not the English Lit class version) saves time. I don't have to cut whole chapters later because I meandered off somewhere. I even outline 100 drabbles.

If I can get this finished in time for next month's crit group, I'll see what a certain 'Mingin the Merciless' thinks of it :)
Oct. 21st, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)
Good for you, John! Come... come to the dark side of the non-planners...
Oct. 21st, 2009 12:56 pm (UTC)
It's a slippery slope. I have to be careful or before I know it, I'll be writing blog posts without drafting them on Word first.

The horror! :)
(no subject) - peadarog - Oct. 21st, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 21st, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peadarog - Oct. 21st, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 21st, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
I love your opener and want to read more ... right now. So please keep going.

I've experimented more with different approaches when I write poetry (for example, before having any image in my head that's in dire need of words, I've chosen a poetic form and let images come out of rhyme structure instead), but every time I've tried outlining as opposed to the blind-faith style you're talking about here, I've gone nowhere. I'd like to have an idea before beginning a story at some point in my life--it would help me believe I've actually something to say or a plot that might be intriguing rather than superfluous.

I hope you enjoy the process!
Oct. 21st, 2009 12:59 pm (UTC)
Have you ever tried using music as an inspiration for poetry? In my songriting days, I often found the music inspired the lyrics.
(no subject) - clarionj - Oct. 21st, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 21st, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - clarionj - Oct. 22nd, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 22nd, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - clarionj - Oct. 23rd, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 23rd, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 21st, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
Jon, Everyone should take a "walk on the wild side" sometimes. I tell folks this all the time. Taking this walk shakes up the "norm in you" and can sometimes take you into some very interesting creative ventures. Good for you!! Let us know how it goes.

As for me, I have 2 WIP's one original and one fan fic. Writing Fan Fic is how I take a break from my "real writing work," it is a tool I use when I need to let my mind rest from my original work. It's like doing word or picture prompts writing. I also will write drabbles. Limiting yourself to 100 words and getting the story there is a challenge.

As far as my film work since I am a filmmaker too, I am doing rewrites on my screenplay and trying to get this short doc filmed before the cold weather gets here. In film, I really "take a walk on the wild side" many many times.


Oct. 21st, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
Lol, I imagine the metaphorical wildside is more pleasant than the real thing, especially when filming outdoors ;)

Thanks for sharing :)
Oct. 21st, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC)
I liked your first paragraph. I never differ from my approach.
I mull an idea around in my head for a bit and if it looks like it might go somewhere, I start writing. No outline.
Oct. 21st, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
I've only tried not outlining once (it was the initial draft of my MG urban fantasy, Fur-Face, the first thing I ever wrote), and that was by accident since I'd never heard of outlines at that point, but so many people hate the idea of them, I thought I'd try it one more time, in case I'm missing something :)
(no subject) - maryjdal - Oct. 21st, 2009 02:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 21st, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 21st, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC)
I operate on blind faith all the time. The difference in the novel I'm working on now, though, is that this time I did a year of research before I started writing, so the story had a lot more time to percolate. I still don't use outlines, but the story feels a bit more mapped out than I'm used to.

Trust your subconscious. Mine's never let me down yet.

P.S. I like your flash fiction! It sounds like the opening for a good YA. :D
Oct. 21st, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
I've done a couple of workshops where we were prompted with pictures etc, but I confess, I normally like to know how a story ends before I start.

Thanks for sharing :)
Oct. 21st, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC)
Always good to experiment. I think everyone should try different variations to see what works. Sometimes, you can follow a story down the rabbit hole, and come up with a marvelous adventure. Sometimes, you get stuck in ditch filled with mud. No telling which it is by looking at the hole from above, have to make the leap of faith to find out.

On the other hand, you can always bring a shovel. (I.e. if you get stuck, you can always step outside the story, and draft up a quick outline before moving on again.)
Oct. 21st, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
'...you can always bring a shovel...'

Lol, good one :)
Oct. 21st, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
"Jon won’t even start a shopping list without consulting a map of the store so he can write things down in the order he'll find them on the shelves."

LOL, Jon! This made me really laugh. Good luck on the new writing adventure!
Oct. 21st, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
If all else fails, I'll 'accidentally' plan the rest of the story out in my sleep :)
Oct. 21st, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC)
Jon...the shopping list...really?? And you know what the sad thing is, I used to do the same thing! It's why I stopped making lists. I decided it was better (for me!) to forget things than to let my overwhelming need to control take over. I think that's why I am often forgetful--my brain's natural defense against the crazies.

Novels, I always outline; some to a greater degree than others. Anything short, I go by the seat of my pants with an initial idea or a few lines.

Love the opening up there. I hope you're going to share the completed story with us!
Oct. 21st, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
I confess to feeling pretty uncomfortable about not knowing so much as how it ends, but we'll see what happens :)
Oct. 21st, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC)
Outline? What's that? I wouldn't know one if it bit me in the butt.

Rock on, Jon. Come to the dark side with me. You know you want to :).
Oct. 21st, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Lol :)
Oct. 21st, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
I almost always write from beginning to end. I never outline ahead of time, but I sort of outline as I go, in that I keep a timeline file, where I record what has happened on a day-by-day basis. When I finish a chapter, I record the info for it in the timeline file.

Every now and then, if I come to a point where I'm not certain where i want the story to go, if I have a future scene vividly in my mind, I will go ahead and write it out of order and then stitch it in when I get there.

That's my wild side.
Oct. 21st, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
I wish I could do that. If I get stuck in a story, I can't move on and come back to it later, though luckily I've no problem working on something completely different for a while :)
Oct. 21st, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
I experiment with different styles, language types, genres and planning approaches. Sometimes, I even know how the story will end when I begin writing it (admittedly, this doesn't happen too often!).
Oct. 21st, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC)
'...Sometimes, I even know how the story will end when I begin writing it...'

Aside from this experiment, I always know.
Oct. 21st, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
My usual style is to have an opening scene planned and a final scene planned and just proceed from there. For the current WIP, I've been doing random snippets throughout the storyline and pursuing some heavy research - it seems to be working as well. I usually do an outline for a 2nd or 3rd draft to keep my fingers in check.
Oct. 21st, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC)
'...My usual style is to have an opening scene planned and a final scene planned...'

Me too. I like to know where I'm headed, so that if I make a detour, I can get back on track.
Oct. 21st, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
And all the girls say "do-do do-do-do do do do do do-do-do-do" ?

Hey, blame Lou Reed for that one. :-)

Personally, I don't think any trip to Walmart is complete without a Dirty Dozen-esque plan of attack.

Lee Marvin: One!
(in unison) Through the lot and past the greeter!

LM: Two!
(in unison) What out for swine flu or meet St. Peter!

LM: Three!
(in unison) Get cat food and toothbrushes, it's time to go

LM: Four!
Maggot and Posey need flour for dough!

You get the idea.

Oct. 21st, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Lol :)
Oct. 21st, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
I recently saw a writer - real writer, published and all, but I can't find the link :-( - recommend quick drafts, because they let your subconscious speak out instead of your internal editor. That alone seems like a good reason to try it out -- so best of luck!

(Title suggestion: The McNab-Jab.)
Oct. 21st, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
'...Title suggestion: The McNab-Jab...'

Thanks for the suggestion :)
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