“O” is for Outlining
Are you a plotter or pantser? Or a little of both?
I am proud to be a plotter. And here’s why: story ideas come to me all the time, and I don’t want to lose them. So I write down my ideas and I develop them into the outline of a story later, as the mood strikes.
When I am ready to focus on a particular story, I read the outline I started for that story. It’s usually something basic that doesn’t have all the plot points or development I’ll need.
So that’s my next step. I create character arcs, plot arc, and theme arcs. But I don’t get too detailed, plan every twist, or spend too much time on it. And I leave it all open to change, which inevitably happens as the characters come to life during the writing process.
Moving from a developed outline to writing a story has become even easier now that I use Scrivener. I’ll write more about Scrivener on the letter “S” day, but I love Scrivener’s outlining features.
I am also a bit of a pantser, writing by the seat of my pants. When a scene comes to mind–which often happens on long drives or when I should be sleeping–I will devote my time to writing out that scene so that I don’t lose it. Sometimes a specific mood or scene will come first in my story development, and the outline is built around it.
I developed my story Roland West, Loner around a dream. I stood alone in a deep cave behind a waterfall. Rushing water thundered in my ears, and glassy and white sheets of water tumbled down a few inches from me. Sunlight glistened here and there on the water as it splashed to the pool below. I had a secret that I both wanted to keep to myself and wanted to share, something that had the power to reach deep inside and transform a person.
I wrote that scene and the characters, plot, and theme sprang from it!
Benefits of outlining:
- It gives the writer a way to organize and develop thoughts about character development, plot, themes, and twists.
- It helps a writer to focus right from the beginning on the characters, theme, and the story that you are telling.
- I also believe it helps a person to write faster because you know what needs to happen in the scene!
- It gives you a clear path from beginning to end, which is very encouraging on the days you struggle to write.
So, writer friends, what are you? Plotter, pantser, or both? What benefits do you see in either method?