Outlining. More like guidelining.

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

I am a proclaimed pantser. No plot, no problem is my motto. But I think I may have just been converted to this newfangled thing called an ‘outline.’

Lately I’ve been trying my hand at outlining a story. I sat down, merrily plugging in the acts and plot points, figuring out what was to happen when. After a couple of hours of work, I was satisfied. I hit print, so I’d have a copy of the outline for my writing by hand.

You should see my outline. Its covered in scribbles, Xs and notes. Reworkings of events. But its been incredibly helpful, keeping me on target. I’m the sort of person who doesn’t write out one crappy draft (NaNoWriMo excepted). If the beginning doesn’t work, I’ll rewrite it until it does. I think I wrote the opening scene six or seven times, and realized that it would work better if I cut it the first four pages entirely, jumping straight into the action. Once I figured this out, I could move forward. The same has worked for later scenes, reworking until it fits.

I worried that outlining would take the spontaneity out of writing. It hasn’t. If anything, I’ve found that its encouraged the unexpected, in terms of conversation, and character development. Because I know where I am going, I can take my time getting there.

I am going to need a machete to clear out the unessential stuff, but I won’t know what’s essential until I’m done. For now, I’m enjoying the ride, map in hand.

Not actually the plot of the story.

4 thoughts on “Outlining. More like guidelining.

  1. I was never an outliner before, either! Until this latest idea for a book had been rolling around in the middle of my brain, I just let myself write whatever came into my head. Unfortunately, that kind of thinking is what tabled my last idea indefinitely. So, for my new idea, I did as you did. I outlined. And so far, it’s worked quite well for me. We shall see as the novel progresses, but I think I’m a believer now. Best of luck to you!


  2. For shorts I am a pantser, but longer stories I like to mix it up, especially if the story is too big to wing it. Also my first drafts are always rubbish but I do what I can later.


    1. I find I need to know where I’m going to end, even with short stories.
      I’m thinking that now that I’m a outline-convert-ish, I’ll have to outline some of the novels I’ve got kicking around in my head and see where they lead me. I might be able to finish more now!


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