An outline is a like good map. You need one or you can get lost out there. Anyone who has gone hiking without a map and gotten lost, knows how valuable a map can be. I always start out with the outline. It helps me stay focused and on course. When hiking with my husband, maps don't necessarily make it out of the pack. They go in because maps are safe and we need a general sense of where we are going, but hiking with Erik means you are guaranteed to "just see where this little side trail goes." It's always an adventure. Not always a fun one. Sometimes it ends up in a neighborhood hitching a ride from a stranger because you are far too tired and hungry after four hours of trying to find your way back to the car to care if the stranger is really an axe murderer. You just hope the mere sight of your overly friendly pit bull is enough to keep his murderous ways at bay. You make jokes that she is really only "tasting him" when she licks his hand affectionately and pretend you are struggling to hold a monster back from lunging at his neck from the backseat rather than keep her from giving kisses to the back of his head.
My current W.I.P. has been a lot like hiking with my husband. I started out with the map, but ventured off on a side trail (what would happen if...) that led to another side trail and soon I am far off the beaten path. If you look at the map above, I took off towards Lake Poway when my outline was straight through Blue Sky Reserve. I started with a venture down on the creekside trail, which led me back to the main trail. But that side trail to Poway Lake was just too tempting to resist. "Let's see what is off this way," I said to my character and off we went. It's a lovely trail full of adventure! We're having so much fun following it. The problem is that we need to end up at Ramona Dam. The good news is that you can't see it, but off the map, we can make our way back around from the lake in Poway to the Dam up in Ramona. There are some steep hills and a bit of rough bushwhacking (which my husband will tell you is NOT my favorite part and brings out grumpy Jen - the ticks, the ticks! and sometimes a snake!), but we'll get there in the end.
The trail may be the safe way of getting there, but I have discovered that most of the fun is off the path! You can't always play it safe in life. You certainly can't play it safe in stories. If you're going to be daring and have adventures, you need to take a deep breath and plunge into the brush every now and then. You never know what is going to be waiting for you out there. Just make sure you pack enough incase you get stuck out there overnight. You know, the basics - water, energy bars, trail mix, a sweatshirt, a compass. Don't forget your writing materials. Those are most important of all!
I am an Humane Education teacher & writer living in Burbank, California. I left television production almost a decade ago to pursue my passion - animals. Along the way, I snagged myself a super handsome, extremely patient and very supportive husband. We rescued three cats - Ol' One Eye Pip, Eowyn the Snow Leopard and Wednesday the Butt. We also ended up with an American Staffordshire Terrier pup, Lily. I co-founded my own non-profit (Paws and Learn Humane Education Center) and spend three days a week in the schools educating kids about kindess to animals, dog bite prevention, city wildlife, pet overpopulation and responsible pet ownership. I love my job, but I also love to write. I spend my spare time writing and daydreaming. I love the outdoors and enjoy hikes with my hubby, friends and our dogs! Life is what we make of it and I am making the most of mine.