My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

To Outline or Not?

I’m constantly in awe of those writers who don’t use outlines. They just write and come up with the story as it goes along.

I’m the complete opposite. I have to use an outline or the “flow” of words stops. Or more specifically, doesn’t even get started.

I need some sort of loose guideline to follow as I’m progressing in the story. I say “loose” because often the chapter changes as I’m writing, although the general idea is still there. I’m also more of a visual person, so it’s easier for me to see the order of the book if I have an outline, and if I need to do any switching around (which I do all the time!) I can just copy and paste the chapter segments.

Are you one who outlines your story or do you just jump right in and write? Or, do you do a combination of these?

Comments on: "To Outline or Not?" (8)

  1. I’m still a ‘new’ writer, my first attempt was just a pants effort, hidden under my bed.
    My 2nd attempt, also pantsing, but as I wrote the synopsis I realized how my plot sort of meanders, and I’m re-writing alot to hit a focused plot I discovered while working on the synopsis.

    My 3rd effort, I’m going to try plotting. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully it will help keep that Middle from sagging.

  2. I often know how things begin, roughly where I’m going, and the ending is a haze in the distance that gets clearer the closer I get to it 🙂

  3. a combination, from manuscript to manuscript. but there has to be SOME idea, even if it’s stuck in my head, or else…

    I kill everyone off!! bad bad plan… 🙂

    knowing what you want to have happen isn’t like nailing your fingers to the keys. all SORTS of bits turn up, when you least expect them, even in the most tightly plotted work.

    make sure you’re comfortable with the way you choose. that’s the most important thing.

    and yeah, time travel hoo haa does my head in at times too… 🙂

  4. Outlining is a popular topic lately, it seems.

    I generally just start writing, then do a rudimentary outline once I get about 8,000-10,000 words down. From there on, I outline just one or two scenes ahead, sometimes just a sentence telling what needs to happen in that scene.

    Then when I get close to the end, I tend to leave the outlining behind and just write again…once I know how it’s going to end, I don’t need to plan scenes anymore.

    To each his/her own – whatever works for you is what you need to do!

  5. I like to jump right in. 🙂 I did write a synopsis first, once. That worked out okay, but I still prefer the freefall. LOL

  6. Count me in with the outliners! Before a story starts, I daydream a lot about it and the best parts go into the outline.

    I actually do chapter by chapter and assume 3 scenes per chapter. It keeps me from writing myself into a corner.

  7. I’ve done outlines and I don’t find it as fun to write. Instead I brain storm a bunch of possible scenes and then make it up as I go. But I might have to do more planning for the second book in the series I’m hoping to write.

  8. I approach each work differently, but in general it’s hard for me to outline because scenes come to me in totally random order. For this current WIP, I did a chapter outline once I finally had the full story straight in my head. (after a couple of very rough, weird, out-of-order drafts)

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