Call it wiggle room or an escape clause.
Call it the lock-picking kit you keep in your left coat pocket.
Call it the spare handcuff key you tuck away in your shoe.
Whatever you choose to dub it, every outline a writer crafts should have that emergency exit built into it.
As I’ve complained or touted a million times in this blog, my current project, The Hushing Days, is being sculpted around an extremely detailed scene-by-scene outline. This is new for me, an author who in the past had preferred working with a quickly sketched skeleton over an embroidered cadaver.
Determined to stick to this knew game-plan and not allow myself room to weasel out of it, I tried to fine tune the outline down to its every corpuscle.
Silly, silly me.
Apparently my subconscious (often the villain in my life story) knew this would be a mistake and stuck that aforementioned handcuff key into the heel of my sandal.
Chapter 17, the only chapter not to include a scene-by-scene account of every interaction, had been simply left vague. Basically it said, “The secret is found out. Emotional mayhem ensues when the liar is confronted by all parties.”
Voila! The handcuff key.
Yesterday, I grabbed that sucker and used it. I simply let my creative juices run free, letting them take my characters wherever the imagination flowed.
And it was good.
Heck, it was great.
Every writer needs a little room to run free from time to time. Every author needs the wiggle room to spread his/her wings and create on the glorious fly.
Bottom line: A handcuff key in the shoe is a very good thing.