9 Jan 2015: To outline … or not to outline …

Before I even pick up a pen to start the first draft, I already have a very detailed outline of 99% of the book.  I know a lot of authors like to write their way through their novels, to let the book grow organically as it flows through their hand onto paper.  I don’t feel that I don’t do that as well just because I have a well thought out plan of attack.  I purposefully don’t outline the last few crucial scenes.  I like to feel the tension with my characters.   Who will she end up with in the end???  I don’t even know myself until I get to the end.  I feel like if I really knew how it was going to end, that my writing wouldn’t be as exciting.

But at the same time, I like a plan.  I have bullet points to hit in a precise order.  But the path I take from Point A to get to Pointe B is never a straight line.  It weaves around and grows on its own.  But when I feel I’ve gone astray and need to know how to get back to the root of the story, I always have a specific goal to get to, the next bullet point.

My outline will grow and change as I write.  I’ll of course have epiphanies as I’m writing that will force me to rewrite future parts of the outline.  Again, I’m a goal orientated person, I need to know what I’m striving for next.

Why outline at all, you ask??  I’m not sure.  When I started to create the book series I’m finishing now, it started as just me tossing around ideas.  That list of ideas turned into bullet points and started to grow.  I didn’t set out to write this way, but it feels very natural to me.   Again, why continue to do it??  Well, one reason is I’ve never experienced writer’s block.  I’m working with a road map.  Sure I may take a detour here and there to see something interesting, but I’ll always work my way back to the main road.  Plus I think just having such a detailed outline helps keep my forward momentum rolling along.  I’ll admit, I’d forget my head if it wasn’t attached.  My outline has big plot movements and the littlest of things I just don’t want to forget to add in.

So where do you fall on the great outline debate??




  1. Thanks for the great post! It’s always cool to see inside another writer’s process. I always outline, but it isn’t super detailed. Normally, I just do a list of the plot points I need to hit each chapter, and then I leave a little wiggle room for creative spontaneity. When I have a general plan, details, symbols, and foreshadowing emerge organically during the writing process.


    1. Spontaneity comes whether I want it or not most of the time. I swear when I’m typing, my characters are just talking and I’m taking dictation. I often find myself laughing or crying at the things that come out of their mouths. Hard not to feel spontaneous when I often don’t even feel like I’m the one in charge of where the story will ultimately end. I’m just following them half the time.

      Liked by 1 person

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