Write by outline

May 2, 2014

If you’re trying to make a serious effort at writing fiction, write by outline. What you may lose in spontaneous creativity will be repaid a hundred times over in logical plotting, consistent pacing, well-considered character arcs, and not writing yourself into a damn corner.

I understand why some authors prefer to plot as they go. Laying out the narrative is the fun part, so why would we want to finish it all in a few days and leave ourselves with only the hard stuff? (Actually writing)

Because it results in a better story.

I think the idea that some authors “can’t” write by outline is disingenuous at best, and selfish at worst. It’s prioritizing your own fun over the end product, or deciding you can’t do something because that’s not how your mind works. Damn your muse! Anyone can change how they work, if they want to.

There are are obviously exceptions to every rule. There are undoubtedly some writers who plot better on the fly, but are you an exception? Are you one of the special few?

Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it. I never go into anything assuming I’m special. That’s a recipe for complacency.

I know I’m not a genius, or a prodigy, or even particularly clever most of the time. What I am is stubborn. I plot, I write, I slave away, and I can’t seem to give up. Maybe that’s why writing by outline works for me.

What I know for sure is that if you want to do anything consistently well, you need to build a system inside which creativity can flourish. Within the lines of my outline, art happens, and I modify my plans as I see fit. It’s just easier to make everything work when you have some idea of where you’re going.

As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).

By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.

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