Outlining from Inside

When you've written your set-piece, you should be looking ahead to the end, to see if you can see its shape any more clearly from this vantage point than you could before. And if you can, make adjustments to make this scene lead more clearly, more precisely, toward the last cliff, with fewer possible turnings-away, so that the story, crisis by crisis, narrows down to a point that seems inevitable when it comes.

I call it outlining from inside. Blocking out the story, one set-piece step at a time, from inside it, taking due account of what it seems so far to be trying to become. That much outlining, I believe, every writer needs if his story is not to appear a funhouse, a random series of events sprung on the reader for no particular reason, gone too fast to have impact, leading from nothing to nothing. You need some kind of an outline, some idea of where you're going and how, if you're going to keep your story out of the funhouse which, in fiction, is no fun at all.

Look ahead at least to your next major scene and get ready for it. Then deliver.

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