The Ever-Shifting Outline

The long weekend break has been a blessing – as has been my husband. He’s looked after the kids, cleaned the house, kept us fed and provided me with copious amounts of tea as I have spent the last four days in self-imposed lock down, writing my story ‘Evolution’ for The Doctor Who Project.

And it’s been fun! And stressful…

So much time is put into creating a solid story outline – but what never fails to amaze me is how I can be running along, writing to my outline when all of a sudden… WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! Yep, that’s the sound of me falling down a gaping plot hole.

Science-fiction is funny like that. (When I say ‘sci-fi’ I mean ‘life’ and when I say ‘funny’ I mean ‘fucking annoying’.)

What follows is a mad dash to fix said plot hole. For me this usually involves a shower. I can sit stewing on a problem for hours but it’s not until I’m all soapy that inspiration strikes. Then the answer seems obvious. Until, of course, the plot patch causes other plot problems. The result is an outline that shifts so much that some parts of it barely resemble the original product.

Now I have to admit there is a pretty amazing flip-side to all of this.

Sometimes, when I’m patching, creating new holes and patching again – something wonderful happens.

For some strange and amazing reason, the repaired flaw becomes a spark of genius that never would have materialised had I not had a problem to solve. In this spectacularly fateful way, the “fixes” slot in to bring a whole new layer to the story. And often they relate back to something that happened in the beginning of the story, creating a perfect resolution to tiny sub-plots that may not necessarily have gone anywhere on their own.

Of course I’d like to be able to say “Yeah, I meant that!” but sometimes I can’t help but to wonder whether my muse had more of a hand in that than I did.

Or maybe nothing good comes from anything unless it has had to stand up to rigorous testing and the threat of failure…


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