Welcome to my life. Told about me, by me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Outlines: Are They Really Necessary?

Whenever I think of outlines, one of my English teachers always comes to mind. He would require us to write an outline for everything, whether it was an essay or a creative story. He would even check to make sure that we did them, and would grade us on whether we had the outline or not. I suppose he wanted to make sure that we were thinking about what we would write instead of diving into the assignment headfirst.

That being said, I really, truly, hate outlines.

Why? I suppose it would have to be because of the solidity of them. My writing is fluid, first and foremost. I don't believe in forcing out ideas just for the sake of writing. The ideas have to flow easily, without me forcing myself to write what I think people would like. To me, when I write something in an outline, it feels final. Once it's down on paper, I feel like I have to include this idea in the story, even though I don't want to. Teachers have tried telling me that I can change the outline, but it still feels like I have to write what I put on my outline.

Personally, I rather like diving into things headfirst. When I'm writing a story or essay, I'll have a few ideas in my head as to where I want to go with it, but they're just that: ideas. I'm not committed to any one of them until I put them on paper. When I actually begin writing, I'll keep these ideas in mind, but sometimes, my writing will take me in an entirely different direction than what I had originally planned. This is usually a selling point for teachers as to why students should use outlines, but I disagree. Just because the story becomes something different doesn't necessarily mean that's a bad thing. It just means that it's not what I had originally planned.

A method story-planning that seems to work for me is that I'll have several scenes mapped out in my mind in detail, but the way I get from point A to point B is completely blank. This includes bits and pieces that I really like for the story, but still leaves room for me to be surprised. It also helps me when I have writer's block: I'll start writing one of these particular scenes (often out of sequence with the rest of the story), and that breaks the floodgates and allows my creativity back.

If I feel like I really, truly, need to write down an idea for fear of forgetting it, I STILL won't do an outline, per se. I'll go on a site called Polyvore instead. Polyvore, in a nutshell, is a site that allows you to make "sets" with images you get off the internet. For instance, this is a set I made as an example:


Click the link. You'll see what I'm talking about. Pretty awesome, huh?

I'll use these sets as an outline, and I'll create a collection of them on Polyvore, putting them in order, so that I can go through the major scenes in sequence if I so chose. This is the only form of outlining I will ever choose to use. Period.

So are outlines really necessary? What unconventional method of outlining do you use (if you use any)?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Help Save (The Original) Shoeperwoman.com!

In my free time, I follow quite a few blogs. Right now, one of my person favorites, Shoeperwoman.com, is in jeopardy. Amber, the writer, has encountered a serious problem.

Someone else has started a blog called Shoeperwoman.com. On its own, this wouldn't be a problem. However, the new blog's writer is trying to trademark Shoeperwoman.com, which would essentially put the original Shoeperwoman out of business.  This is incredibly unfair to Amber, who has been writing on her blog for over two years.

I'm not here to pass judgement on the new Shoeperwoman.com, however, I highly disagree with the strategy the writer of the new Shoeperwoman is taking in regards to this entire situation. Amber posted a message on her blog yesterday informing her readers about this situation. Today, Amber apparently received a message from the writer of the new Shoeperwoman.com which threatened to report Amber to the police for slander, harassment, and cyber-bullying.

I'm sure that you have seen my earlier post about how to get content taken down on a blog, and if not, go check it out. It'll tell you my opinion about how how the new writer decided to respond to Amber's post.

In my opinion, Amber did nothing wrong. Her readers have the right to know what's happening, especially since this blog may be shut down forever, and having read the original message, I found nothing that suggested cyber-bullying or slander, and certainly no harassment. In essence, Amber simply said "Look. This person has started a site called Shoeperwoman.com. This has nothing to do with my blog. They're also trying to trademark it, which means that my blog may be out of commission forever. Please help me save it." How is that considered harassment?

However, the trademark issue is still pending. There's only one way to help out Amber: post the link to her site on your blog. It'll help verify that Amber was, in fact, here first, and make sure that she's not shut down.


Please help save the original Shoeperwoman.com!