I had a post go up yesterday on YA Stands about “Preparing for National Novel Writing Month,” where I talked briefly about my outlining process. The most important thing I need to have in my head (or, preferably, down on digital paper) before I launch into a new manuscript? The beginning image of the story, and the ending image.
I use this phrase “image” intentionally. I don’t think it’s necessary–at least in my process–to know all the details before diving into a first draft. But what I need to know is:
Point A: Where the story begins. The tone, style, and voice; the immediate image I want to place in my reader’s mind.
Point B: Where the story ends up–usually parallel to the opening image (Point A) in tone, style, and voice, but changed, now that the character and plot arcs are complete. If the story opens with a man riding into town on a horse, then it makes sense for him to ride out of town on a horse at the end. (Even better if he comes in at sunrise, and leaves at sunset.) He is, of course, not the same man he was before, as a result of his time spent in the town. (more…)