Monday, September 20, 2010

Outlining vs. Jumping Right In

Hey everyone. :) Today's post is going to be about the ways of writing your novel, with focus on outlines and simply leaping right in.

So, I'll simply start if off with this: I hate outlines. Always have, probably always will. Why? be honest, I'm not too sure. But I hate them. Sometimes I feel like they pressure me into creating a story I truly don't want to write; why would I plot a whole story out if I know I'm already limiting my creative juices, in a sense? This is not at all to offend anyone in favor of outlines; trust me, I've tried them and have heard a handful of reasons why authors should use them, such as:
  1. They help you stay on task.
  2. You already know the beginning, middle, and end, so you know where your story's going.

And, yeah. That's all I've got. Don't get me wrong--these reasons are certainly valid. But, being an outline-opposer, I can't see many reasons why you should, in fact, use them. But hey, we're all different. And I did say that I probably will always hate them. So, maybe you guys can sway me in the comments if you feel I'm totally idiotic concerning my writing ways. =]

Now, how I write. Well, guys and gals...

I wing it.

Seriously. I sit down, idea in head, fingers on keys, and start typing. I see where the story goes, where my characters lead me, what roads I'll take with my adventure. It's more fun to me when I have nothing to already base my story off of; simply diving right in gives me, at least, more freedom.

This post is definitely biased; not denying it in the least. Yes, there's definitely some little moments where I have to sit down for a while and figure out how certain situations are going to pan out, why certain things have happened, how characters became who they are... But still, I'm a jump-right-in-and-just-start-writing kind of guy.

So, those are two particular ways of writing. How about you guys? Agree? Disagree? I'm totally for constructive responses, so give me what you've got!

Until then, write on! (I had to yank that little ending for posts from a friend of mine, whose blog, All Writing Allowed, is a great little writing blog for anyone in need of some advice, opinions, and fun!)


  1. I'm a pants'er for real. No planning for me. I like the organic flow of the I write. However, before I write word-one I do have like two or three typed out pages of character notes and some plot points. But other than that it all comes out of me as I type. I like it that way.

  2. Completely agree with you (I should probably take up the habit of having some notes on general ideas and things before I truly start)! I simply like the idea of creating the story as I go.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. I've always been a winger (pantser?) in the past, but thought I'd try a different approach with my current wip - I winged the first few chapters them wrote my draft query letter AND (*pauses to take a deep breath*) my draft synopsis!!! :)

    That was a challenge and a half, but I love how I can refer back to them now to keep my plot on track. And - have you noticed this? - but defining the plot helps me keep my word count down as well, something I've always struggled with in the past.

    So...I'm wavering. Not sure if I'm an outline convert as such - I like writing organically too much for that, but I'm starting to see the +'s in having a general idea (down on paper rather than just in my mind) of where the plot's going :)

  4. Interesting, I haven't noticed that once you define the plot your word count naturally goes down. :) When you tend to write a little more than you should, that's definitely a helpful thing to know!

    Don't worry at all if you're on the fence. Some days I'm totally for wingin' it...whereas other days, like you, I find myself wavering. Just go with what your gut says and it should all work out!

    Oh, and by the way, thanks for following!

  5. No worries at all :)

    BTW, thanks for having me in your blog list. I changed my blog last week from Rachael Harrie On Writing Children's Books to Rach Writes... with a new URL, so you might need to change your link as well :)

  6. I'm a winger too and I haven't written my novel for years! but just this week picked it up and I will still be a winger, although this is cheating because the whole novel is there just messy and I am changing pov entirely throughout. It is definitely an idea to have chapter by chapter notes, but who is to say you can't do that as soon as you've written a chapter. That's what I might do this time. Did you know wingers are officially known as bungie jumpers?

  7. My problem is I can think a lot faster than I can type, so when I have a new idea, I have to type up some notes just to make sure I don't forget any great ideas. I usually put down a really light outline I.A. to start with, then as I get closer to writing a certain part I might flesh out the outline a little more. But I use it more as a place to store ideas that may pop into my head, but I'm not ready to write yet. I usually change the outline dozens of times while I'm working through it. I'm not married to the outline, it's more of a way to organize my thoughts, while I'm writing.

  8. I found your blog from Rachel Writes (I signed up to be a crusader). Nice to find your blog and meet you!

    Anyway, I fall somewhere in between.

    I hate outlines. Never did like them. But I need some way to keep track of the story. The way I do it is to come up with chapter titles (I title all my chapters). So I'll come up with chapter titles and add maybe a sentence or two about what happens in the chapter. This way it doesn't lock me in to a set scene-by-scene outline that I have to follow, but it does establish a guideline I can follow. But I don't even follow my guidelines all the time. If I come up with a new idea, I just add in a new chapter or move things around -- I come up with a plan, but I don't lock myself into following it.

  9. Yes I also found you through Rachael. Nice to meet you!

  10. Nope, kangaroobee, I didn't know that wingers are officially known as bungie jumpers. :) Nice little factoid!

    I totally get that you think much faster than you type, Melissa, because, truth be told, I have the same problem. It typically happens, though, when I get an insanely, gloriously amazing idea that I just cannot get out of my head. :) And I'm with you on fleshing out certain scenes when you arrive at them. Sometimes it's simply necessary.

    Nice to know we both hate outlines, Quinn! And, I must say, your "chapter and sentence helper" (I'm going to call it that now) :) is a really, really good idea. It's so simplistic AND keeps you on track at the same time. Thanks for letting me in on that!

    Lastly, it's nice to meet both of you too! Thanks for following and commenting!

  11. I'm definitely on the fence. Half/half. I write to a very loose outline (more like a handful of ideas), with plenty of room for seat-of-the-pants inspiration.

    Works for me!