Wednesday, June 8, 2011

RTW: Outlines

I am definitely an outliner. Usually, I have only a very vague outline before I start writing, but then when I hit somewhere between 5-10 thousand words of drafting, I stop and do a better outline that hits on all the major plot points and any individual scenes that I can really think of firmly. If I get stuck at any point, not knowing how to get from one plot point to another, I stop again and make an extra detailed plotline of all the scenes needed to get from plot point A to plot point B.

Sometimes things change. Okay, things always change. I've yet to have an outline that survives completely intact from beginning to end of a draft, but it's okay. Having it gives me structure and direction, otherwise I will meander and write 100k+ manuscripts that include massive logic gaps and probably multiple chapters of scenes that are in no way relevant to the plot.

How about you? Are you an outliner, or do you keep it all in your head? Visit YA Highway to add your link and check out what others said!

17 comments:

Cindy Thomas said...

I'm definitely more of a pantser but have been leaning towards creating a more detailed outline lately. For some reason I think I'm scared of the outline.

Yahong Chi said...

That's so true -- outlines do change, and I think pantsers ought to keep that in mind (so they won't be so scared of the outline!). Otherwise, I love having an outline because I know where I'm writing to.

Sarah said...

I'm a plotter, too. It's true that your outline evolves the further you get into your story. It's just a guideline to keep momentum and to keep things happening. Without one, I don't think I'd finish anything.

Tere Kirkland said...

Outliner! Even if I don't always start off with a clear idea of the plot, by the time I get close to 10000 words, I know I need to pull back and figure out where the story is going.

Even if it changes. Which it usually does. ;)

ka.thy br.adey said...

It's scary how similar we are at plotting :) I'd meander right off the page if I didn't have an outline...

Rachel Bateman said...

I'm definitely more of a pantser than a plotter, but I have to have a general roadmap of where I am going before I start to write or else I just wander all over the place.

Sarah Enni said...

Yes, the FLEXIBLE outline is what I love. As long as I go in knowing anything can change, I'm cool with some organization. (Or at least I'm trying, lol) I love that you start that at 5K words though. I'm like "Hey! I've got 80K words, maybe I should get a plan?"

Pam Harris said...

I'm with you. Once I hit a wall in my writing, I definitely need a vague outline to help me cross the finish line.

Eliza Tilton said...

Logic gaps! I ran into that with my Fantasy. Hence, why this pantser is trying to plot more.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

I do a little bit of both--have an idea of my characters and plot points, but end up with all these lovely serendipitous ways to get to the end.

Rebecca B said...

I'm a plotter, too! I love how you write your outlines 5K or so in to the story--sounds like the ideal method to me. Pants until you know the character and tone, then plot so you know where you're going.

Lora said...

I couldn't keep it all in my head without having it written down in notes or an outline. Sounds like we have a similar approach, having a flexible outline for guidance and structure. It really does help, and I don't think I'd be almost finished with a first draft of my WIP without it.

Katy said...

We're pretty similar in the flexibility of our outlines, though I do a fairly detailed one before I begin writing. Like you, if I don't have a road map, I tend to meander and end up cutting more than I keep. No good!

Leila Austin said...

I always have to keep things flexible too. Usually I get my better ideas about how a story should work when I'm, oh, AT LEAST halfway through it. Sometimes further.

I can't write an official outline of events - my brain rebels against that - but I make lots and lots of notes about scenes and potential scenes, and how they could fit together.

Medeia Sharif said...

I'm an outliner. It comes naturally to me. I even write out plans for non-writing endeavors.

Steph said...

I'm a pantser, but on the occasions I have tried outlining I definitely waited until I've got a little bit written, once I've gotten a better idea of my characters and setting.

Georgia Summers said...

I'm definitely half and half. I've got the whole plot floating in my head - well, the bigger plot, anyway - but until I write it down, the subplots don't tend to materialise. I've tried to write outlines, scene by scene, but I get bored at Scene 8 and stop!