Monday, August 30, 2010


I've never been much for detailed outlines. I like to have a starting point and an ending point in my head, and have fun getting from one to the other, not exactly sure where the path along the way will twist and turn. It's funny, actually, because in the physical world, I'm a lover of maps and plans.

I was asked during my time at Chautauqua to turn in a chapter outline. I believed I had one saved on my computer, so I didn't think that would be too much work. I was wrong. I did have a saved outline, but it was from over three years ago, when I first started writing this book, and didn't even have an inkling of all the characters. The first couple of chapters were okay, but the rest was completely outdated. So I wrote a new outline as homework.

Now, that outline is outdated. I think this is why I didn't like outlining to begin with. It's hard for me to stick to them. I'm working on a new one anyway, trying to create a framework that puts more action into my plot. But I'm so easily distracted this way. I find little spots that are going to require new research. Then I immediately want to know if the information I need is accessible, so I check the Internet. I get sucked into that, and the next thing you know, it's time to leave for work. I bookmark the relevant pages, and close the computer.

For some reason, this doesn't happen in the same way when I just write. I know I'll need to come back and research, say, the public transportation schedule in my setting, but I don't need to do it right then. When outlining, I want to know. I think this is a way of avoiding doing the outline in the first place. But I think having the outline will help in the long run. I just have to finish it.


Tess said...

I'm with you ... I keep WANTING to outline...I get it in theory and all, but is is hard to stick to.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

I have learned to love outlines -- or at least some form of organization -- before I start writing. It was a long, hard trek though from the land of pantsing.

Michelle said...

Yeah, I'm starting to think it's one of those things that will turn out to be good for me.

Anonymous said...

I often have no clue how the story goes until I am actually writing it. ;) so outlining at first will be tough. but like what you said, once a story is written, you have a better grasp of the characters and development. Then a sort of outlines will help putting things back to the right place. :) I think that's why I can only outline after the first draft ;)

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

I spent the last year and a half writing by the seat of my pants. Although I completed the draft, I soon learned that swiss cheese had less holes than my plot.

I have since turned over a new leaf. I bought a few "How to" books on characterization, POV and plot,then commenced to outlining. I'm half way through the mapping process, but I can already tell my next draft will be more cogent and cohesive than the last.

I wish I would have outlined the first draft. The moments of hair pulling would have been cut in half. Oh well, you know what they say, "If wishes were horses we all could ride."(: FWIW, my "pantsing" days are over.