Tuesday, January 16, 2018

On Writing (Julie)

To outline or not to outline. That is the question. It seems that writers either hate it or love it.
You’re either a plotter or pantser. Plotters outline the whole story before writing a single word.
On the other hand, pantsers have a general idea of the story.
They know the beginning and ending, but not much in the middle, so they write by
the “seat of their pants.”

I never thought anything about outlines when I first started writing.
I was so excited to let the creative ideas flow that I didn’t want to waste writing time outlining.
When I finally finished my first draft, I came to a startling discovery.
There was still more story to tell. Which meant I had more books to write!
I’ve now decided to make it a trilogy:) But that presented a problem.
The more I wrote, the more I discovered errors. Huge errors.
Like the “whys” behind the motivation of the antagonist.
I made him the villian but didn’t have a strong motivation behind his actions that drove the plot.

Needless to say, I spent countless hours outlining and rewriting so my story
would have continuity and plausibility. The strange thing is that I actually
enjoyed it, granted I’d already written the story though.
But, I now know my story and characters more intimately
and have a solid direction for the rest of it.

I started out a pantser and ended more a plotter with some pantser tendencies.
What about you? Are you the avid plotter who never begins a story
without first plotting every scene? Or do you prefer to let creativity flow as you write?
The third option is where I belong--in both worlds.
You plot enough to get your story in the right direction but leave the
majority of your scenes to whatever comes to mind in the moment.

To help get a better understanding, here's a short list of pros and cons
to the two types of writers:


Helps avoid some writer’s block because you’ve already written the ideas for each scene.
Will save time in the long run because you won’t have to do as much rewriting.
Your story will most likely flow smoother because you’ve already worked out the kinks in the plot
during the outlining stage.

Outlining can limit your creativity. Half way through,
if you are struck with an awesome new idea, you’ll have to redo your outline,
which will take time.

Freedom and flexibility to do as you wish.
Easier to change ideas as you go along.

Could potentially have more writer’s block.
Finding plot holes that require fixing.

Do these ring true in your own writing, or have you experienced something different?


  1. I'm right there in the middle with you, Julie! I have to have some direction when I start out, or I'd never make it to a satisfying conclusion. But it takes me doing some actual writing to get to know the characters and story well enough to fill in all the details in between major plot points. It does make for some major editing, though!

    1. I'm gad I'm not alone in taking the middle road:)

  2. I'm with you and Laurie. :) I've rewritten too much (and have a large novel in the process of being rewritten) because of a weak structure. A solid structure with strong goals and a strong antagonist is a must before writing too much. I call the "I have a a few ideas" way we do things the "Connect-the-dots" method.

    1. Agreed. I've actually really enjoyed delving into my antagonist's background!

  3. If I have to pick one or the other, I'm more of a pantser. But with my next WIP, I'm going to do more outlining. A series requires more planning! :-)

    1. Agreed! That's where I found my trouble is when my characters decided they wanted to continue their stories across two more books:)


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