Planning to Outline Your Novel? Don’t…

As a contrepoint to my linking post Yes, You Have to: 6 Legitimate Reasons to Create a Book Outline posted on 22 October 2017, Lindsey Russell gave me a link to the following article :

It seems an essential question to aspiring writers, who are eager to mimic the habits and behaviors of those they admire. Unfortunately, just like what our favorite writers eat for breakfast, whether they write before or after they shower, and whether they use pencils of word processors, just because a method of book preparation works for one writer, it won’t necessarily work for another.

You will hear writers tell you they never start until they have ten scenes plotted on a timeline and character sketches for all their primary characters. You’ll also encounter writers who tell you they never intend to start a new novel, the story just winds its way there. There are lots of degrees of plotting, planning and pre-writing, and for the newer novelist, extensive outlining can be helpful. There is nothing more comforting than having a road map when the going gets tough.

But for writers striving to create something unique and surprising, the kind of work that will grab the attention of agents and editors, the thorough plotting and planning can be a matter of life and death. By that, I mean that planning your novel ahead of time increases its likelihood of being dead on arrival.

It may fly in the face of your tried and true approach, but I’m going to ask you to consider a different tack:

Don’t plan. Write.

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6 thoughts on “Planning to Outline Your Novel? Don’t…

  1. Never going to diminish someone else’s writing style, but I ride exclusively on the “dive-right-in-train” as well. Call it a fear of commitment, but I feel trapped when I write outlines, almost like since I’ve written it down I must do it. For all of my work I’ve let the story take me where it wanted to go.

    That said, I think outliners have a HUGE headstart when it comes time for a synopsis, which is the only thing I hate more than outlines.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never write an outline, for me an outline would stunt creativity. I don’t do character stretches either. For me, the book is already written in my consciousness, in my thoughts, and I know well the characters already. My first book, I had the first sentence and the last sentence of the book already typed and then I wrote the story as I remembered it. For me, writing should be the fun, not like homework. K D

    Liked by 2 people

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