Fivers for Outlining

Okay, let’s beleaguer the point a bit here. Everyone knows the two main schools of writers: pantsers and plotters. I suppose you can throw in a third type, the writer who runs the middle of those roads… let’s call that one the PLANSTSER. These are the writers who have their outline, but aren’t afraid to follow the rabbit down the hole when necessary.

It’s kind of where I fall in the grand scheme of things, but to be that writer, you still need to have your outline. Here’s five reasons why you should have that outline by your side…

  1. You spend less time thinking and more time writing once the actual writing starts. Let’s face it, writers think about their stories for a lengthy period of time. In my experience, nothing bogs down the writing process more than going, “Oh, shit. What now?”
  2. The outline helps you spot plot problems much earlier. This goes hand in hand with the first bullet there: with an outline, you’ve done you’re thinking, you know (ideally) the answer to “What now?” because you’ve worked through it.
  3. Let’s throw a third item into the whole “it keeps you writing” portion of this: the outline helps you with the structure of your story. Let’s face it, your outline is malleable. It’s not chiseled in stone, it’s not the Ten Commandments, and it’s okay to move the sections around to create balance and symmetry in the story. In fact, if that doesn’t happen, I’d be quite surprised.
  4. Not only does outlining help keep you writing, it helps you edit. I’ve found that an outline is really the key moments of your story that capture character and theme, and if you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole while writing (which, let’s face it, happens), you already know the essentials of what should stay and what can go.
  5. You’ve heard the quote by Hawthorne that goes, “Easy reading is damn hard writing” before, right? Writing is hard enough as it is (is this character growing, is my plot engaging, is my dialogue crisp, are my chapters too short, to infinity and beyond…) and some days, you just stare at either the blank page or the white screen, whatever. An outline helps with that, because, again, it removes the hard thinking from the process. You’ve done that, and you can write this chapter or that section on autopilot because any shit writing can get fixed in the rewriting and editing phases. Your outline makes writing easier, and I’m all for that.

As always, comments are welcome! Discussion is a wonderful thing.

One response to “Fivers for Outlining

  1. Pingback: [Guest Post] Fivers for Writing by the Seat of Your Pants by Todd Skaggs | C. Bryan Brown

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