Sunday, June 5, 2011


I wanted to write a post on outlining today because I've spent the last week or so working on the outline for the sequel to Land of No Angels. And since tomorrow is the start of my 75,000 words in 45 days marathon, I suppose it would be good to talk about outlining.

There are many different ways to outline something. Some people choose not to outline at all (generally called "flying by the seat of your pants" or "pantsing", while others use a very meticulous outlining method called the Snowflake Method or the equally tedious Phase Outlining Method. I'm not going to tell anyone which option is right or wrong, because it would be pointless, but I will tell you that I personally outline everything I do whether it be a short story, a school essay, or a full length novel. That's just how I roll. It works for me because I don't like feeling around in the dark. Too much time will be wasted having me sit there staring at my screen if I don't have some sort of clue.

Even though I am a plotter/outliner, it doesn't mean I go crazy. I don't used any of the methods I mention above because I find them tedious and insane. There's something fun about discovering certain things along the way while still maintaining a sense of structure. Basically, I'll plot out the whole book with a series of plot points, scene points, and other important notes. Once I begin writing the story, I will read through some of the outline in order to know what's going on. Then I will write the scenes and chapter. Sometimes I look back at the outline, others I don't.

When I wrote the outline for Land of No Angels, I'd done a lot of note taking on the post-apocalyptic world. I wrote up a five page outline on it too, but in the end I barely looked at. If I were to compare the original outline to an outline of the actual book and the differences would be immense. In fact, I took a look at the old outline a couple days ago (days before the ebook release date) and realised how many things I forgot to add because they didn't flow with the natural current of the story. Additionally, in the original outline there was a lot less conflict. Everything seemed to be solved with ease and nothing was hard to overcome. But as I wrote the actual story, conflict naturally appeared. A lot of conflict.

So, outlining is always where I start and it's a great thing, but never feel tied down to it. It's kind of the best of both worlds and I intend to keep using this method until it grows into the perfect method.

[Reader Response] Do you outline? Why or why not? What's your pre-writing process?

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