Saturday, July 27, 2013

Writing Tip 12/100 To Outline or Not

Got off a day with traveling back home from California. So, I'll post two writing tip and catch up.

First, let's start with the age old question: paper or plastic? (The correct answer in the Savage household is, "Neither, I have my own cool Disney-themed bags.")

Okay, that's not the age old question I was talking about. This is a question that seems to separate the writing community down the center. Are you an outliner or a pantser? Outliners create an outline of the book before they start writing. Pansters jump in, writing by the seat of their pants. (Which does sound a little painful and hard on your keyboard.)

Rather than telling you one is better than the other, I'll list the pros and cons of each.

Outlining:

  1. Makes it much easier to sit down and write because you know exactly what you are going to write.
  2. Is usually better for getting a book out quickly or under deadline.
  3. Saves you from having to delete big chunks of your writing that didn't work.
  4. Makes it easier to to use foreshadowing, set up plot twists, etc.
  5. Avoids writer's block.   
Pantsing:
  1. More freedom to let your story go where it wants.
  2. Often feels less restraining.
  3. Gives more room for characters to take off in unexpected directions.
  4. It's often more fun and feels less like work.
  5. Some people can only write this way.
I've done both. Early in my career, I was a total pantser. Over the years, with tighter deadlines and a better idea of what I wanted to write, I've tended to be more of an outliner. I love the feeling of knowing exactly what I am going to write that day and focusing on the prose instead of worrying where things are going to go.

I still give myself the freedom to to change things up as I go--like walking on a trail, but wandering off when I see something interesting in the woods.

The best advice I can give, is try both and find what works the best for you. If you find that your stories die out before you reach the end or that you suffer from long bouts of writer's block, try outlining. If outlining feels too stifling, and you lose your love for the story, try pantsing. You can also start without an outline and create one as you get into the story or start with a general outline and throw it away if needed.   

3 comments:

Cenendra said...

I've combined both before. Usually I just start writing something with no ending in mind and eventually a plot forms. At one occasion, I was writing from an outline when a brand new character popped into the story. I was not planning him at all. I just made a few adjustments and it work. He actually was very helpful to the story.

Cenendra said...

I've combined both before. Usually I just start writing something with no ending in mind and eventually a plot forms. At one occasion, I was writing from an outline when a brand new character popped into the story. I was not planning him at all. I just made a few adjustments and it work. He actually was very helpful to the story.

David Glenn said...

I was going to try to outline my next story before I started writing it.