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Storyfixer
06-13-2009, 02:45 AM
Okay, there's really only one, but it's killer.

This one is as controversial as stem cells in Utah. Many great writers, like Stephen King, advocate responding to a story idea by simply sitting down and letting it rip, allowing the muse to take over and guide you toward your story. If you're King, if you're someone who has mastered the issues of structure, character, theme and execution that comprise solid storytelling, this could work... the story would flow from your brain with everything in the right place.

Imagine Tiger Woods telling a would-be professional golfer, who hasn't played the game all that long, that she should just "get out there and swing." Such advice from writers who think their way is the only way is irresponsible and dangerous.

What this approach essentially says is that you use the writing process -- actually creating a draft -- as a vehicle to explore your story options. To find the story, to develop the characters, to explore your themes. Which means, you'll need draft after draft to uncover your options and explore them (how the fit into the flow) before you come up with the optimal mix. Jeffrey Deaver brags he does 22 drafts of every novel he writes. Guess he's no Stephen King afterall.

I say this is an insane way to write a book. Why? Because you can develop the story, or at least 95 % of it, BEFORE you write a draft. You can engage in the very same wonderful creative exploration process without spending two months of your life writing a draft. When you become an architect of your story in the form of a blueprint, or a sequential outline and a list of checklist-driven components -- imagine a builder arriving at a job site with the intention of "just start building" with the hope of coming up with a functional design after several tries... even King and Deaver would think this is nuts... -- it all goes faster, it's smoother, it's clearer, and it takes a fraction of the time. And what you end up with is orders of magnitude BETTER than if you just winged it.

You'll still find dead ends and story problems this way, but instead of trying to engineer the fix into your manuscript-- this is what happens when you encounter a problem mid-draft; you try to fix it without starting over, because starting over sucks -- you'll fix it at the outline stage before you even start.

Does this work? Well, I sold the first draft of my first novel this way, and then three more. Only one required a rewrite at the editor's request. And this was with a major NY publisher. I base my writing workshops on this developmental process, and my instructional website. You owe it to yourself to investigate writing your next project this way... after 20 years of teaching, I've never had a writing student say it doesn't help them, even just a little (most say it has changed their writing life). Some say it's the best thing about writing they've ever heard.

Stephen King, you're a genius... but leave the teaching to the professionals.

Siddow
06-13-2009, 02:53 AM
Um, Stephen King WAS a teacher.

sheadakota
06-13-2009, 03:00 AM
What works for one does not work for all. Outlining is the kiss of death for me. I simply bore myself into hating the story- I am no King but I have to let the muse take me where she will. In effect my first draft is my outline. I have written 9 books this way.

bettielee
06-13-2009, 03:02 AM
Great it worked for you. Congratulations.

Still not gonna outline. Never. Brain don't work that way.

Bubastes
06-13-2009, 03:04 AM
Outlining works for me, but I would never assume that it would work for everyone.

Storyfixer
06-13-2009, 03:04 AM
Obviously, his ego got in the way of his truth. Just because it works for him, doesn't mean its the best way for others to approach something as daunting as constructing a novel. Sure, his way works... nine drafts later. Life's too short. (And, trust me, King doesn't do nine drafts... he publishes his first drafts... which is why they're all over 1000 pages, nobody in NY can edit him.

firedrake
06-13-2009, 03:05 AM
Sorry, outlining doesn't work for me. It constrained me and that particular book has been languishing on the back burner for years.

Different strokes for different folks. There's no right or wrong way, just the way that works best for the individual writer.

This kind of talk reminds me of what happened to a friend of mine. She went to an Art School, she was a good artist, with a distinct style. By the time she'd finished at this 'art school', her work resembled everyone else's. That isn't art, that's mass production.

scarletpeaches
06-13-2009, 03:06 AM
Obviously, his ego got in the way of his truth. Just because it works for him, doesn't mean its the best way for others to approach something as daunting as constructing a novel. Sure, his way works... nine drafts later. Life's too short. (And, trust me, King doesn't do nine drafts... he publishes his first drafts... which is why they're all over 1000 pages, nobody in NY can edit him.

Kettle? Hi. I'm the pot. And by the way - you're black.

Oh, and not everyone looks upon writing a novel as 'daunting'. Mmmkay?

firedrake
06-13-2009, 03:08 AM
Kettle? Hi. I'm the pot. And by the way - you're black.

Oh, and not everyone looks upon writing a novel as 'daunting'. Mmmkay?

What Scarlet said.

Storyfixer
06-13-2009, 03:08 AM
Kids, kids... didn't say it was the only way... just another way if you're tired of writing draft after draft and still not getting it where you want it. It's all good, whatever works for you. Chill.

Chasing the Horizon
06-13-2009, 03:09 AM
Not another outlining debate thread. :scared: :Ssh: :sleepy:

sheadakota
06-13-2009, 03:11 AM
Yup-and he called us 'kids" I'm telling!

firedrake
06-13-2009, 03:14 AM
Yup-and he called us 'kids" I'm telling!

*tosses teddy bear out of pram*

I'm no kid, I'm ... I'm a Big Girl. :D

Clair Dickson
06-13-2009, 03:17 AM
I can't outline the next SCENE let alone a whole story. When I do, it's rather pointless because shortly after I begin writing, the things my characters say change everything and I have to scrap any notes for the future. Only the barest notes, and usually ones on timing, are the only thing that works for me.

My novel isn't published yet, but I've got over 50 short stories of all lengths that have been published. Not a one of them was outlined.

Of course, there's a problem with the claim that King publishes first drafts. One of this quotes:
“How much and how many drafts? For me the answer has always been two drafts and a polish (with the advent of word processing technology, my polishes have become closer to a third draft).” Stephen King (from http://ulfwolf.com/revision.htm)

Storyfixer: Can you provide some evidence to suggest that King doesn't revise?

KTC
06-13-2009, 03:20 AM
Meh. Outline = No

I never met an outline I liked. I do not outline. They are a prison to me.


The outline issue is one to be taken on a case by case basis--writer by writer basis. End of.

Siddow
06-13-2009, 03:21 AM
While you're at it, show me the 781 pages that are obviously missing from my copy of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

Dale Emery
06-13-2009, 03:21 AM
Many great writers, like Stephen King, advocate responding to a story idea by simply sitting down and letting it rip, allowing the muse to take over and guide you toward your story.

Do you have a source for your claim about what King advocates?

I don't think he advocates that at all. I recall that in On Writing he advocates getting to know the characters quite well before starting to write. I don't have my copy in front of me, so I can't quote.


(And, trust me, King doesn't do nine drafts... he publishes his first drafts... which is why they're all over 1000 pages, nobody in NY can edit him.

I don't trust you, and now I trust you less. First, not all of his books are over 1000 pages. This is easy to check, and you are mistaken.

Second, I don't think King routinely publishes his first drafts. On Writing includes an example of his own edits. He has said (I forget where) that he relies heavily on his editors, and that they clean up all kinds of stuff.

So I don't know whether he does nine drafts, but (unless he is lying) he certainly does not routinely publish first drafts.

I have no first-hand knowledge of King's writing practices, so I may be mistaken about how often he publishes first drafts. Do you have sources for your claims?

Dale

Storyfixer
06-13-2009, 03:22 AM
Because I don't have a photographic memory, all I can say is this: I read an inteview where King says the story pours from his head, pretty much in tact. It pours from most of ours a scattered mess (which is why he should suggest we do it his way, as a rule). His "drafts" are tweaks and enhancements, the kind of thing everybody does. A draft is a change to the sequence of the story, an add or a delete, or a change of context.

In a field in which nothing is certain and there is no right or wrong -- William Goldman said, "Nobody knows anything" in reference to the movie biz; same is true of the book biz -- I'm amazed at the defensive reflex demonstrated here to make someone who doesn't do it "your" way wrong. For me, organic writing is crazy. And, in my experience (which I'll pay money is a thicker file than anybody's here), the field of fantasy and sci-fi has the most organic writers in it. Maybe it's the nature of the game. Hey, whatever works, just tryin' to help. I've had more stubborn people than these tell me, after they've learned to outline correctly (from a criteria-based structure) that they were shocked and amazed.

Caramia
06-13-2009, 03:23 AM
I spent about 10 months working out every detail for the characters, the setting and every other little detail I could come up with. I then spent 5 months writing eight chapters, perfectly. It was very intricate, but I thought smooth. Posted one chapter in SYW and it got shredded.

That same night, I tossed out a chapter with new characters, new story, new setting and not an ounce of research or planning and posted it to a much more positive reception. I'm now on chapter 8 of this one and loving it immensely. The feel is much more organic and real to my mind.

Doing it 'the right way' is something that has to be learned individually, I think. My right way wasn't my original way obviously. Just because I failed at outlines doesn't mean it is a bad concept, it works great for others. Doing it without an outline works great for me :)

KTC
06-13-2009, 03:23 AM
Kids, kids... didn't say it was the only way... just another way if you're tired of writing draft after draft and still not getting it where you want it. It's all good, whatever works for you. Chill.

You're saying chill...but you began the thread extremely preachy. In fact, you said "I say this is an insane way to write a book". That's a good reason for a non-outliner to become touchy. To become un-chilled.

firedrake
06-13-2009, 03:24 AM
Well, call me crazy, I don't mind.

Anyone want eggs with their spam?

Storyfixer
06-13-2009, 03:25 AM
Teachy, not preachy. Thin line.

rugcat
06-13-2009, 03:25 AM
Kids, kids... didn't say it was the only way... just another way if you're tired of writing draft after draft and still not getting it where you want it. It's all good, whatever works for you. Chill.Actually, you said, or at least implied, that it's a much better way. Few people are total outliners or total wingers. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, and what works for one may not work for another.

If you haven't figured that out after 20 years of teaching, kid, you might want to open your mind a bit.

Bubastes
06-13-2009, 03:27 AM
A gentle suggestion for the OP: AW isn't your typical writing board, so you may want to check things out a bit before assuming that people here are newbie or inexperienced writers. Just sayin'.

KTC
06-13-2009, 03:27 AM
Because I don't have a photographic memory, all I can say is this: I read an inteview where King says the story pours from his head, pretty much in tact. It pours from most of ours a scattered mess (which is why he should suggest we do it his way, as a rule). His "drafts" are tweaks and enhancements, the kind of thing everybody does. A draft is a change to the sequence of the story, an add or a delete, or a change of context.

Mine come from me intact too...as I am sure is the case with many writers. We are all different. When I'm rewriting, I tweak. A draft is a changed copy of the manuscript. Some people, believe it or not, just get the whole thing out at once.

Kaiser-Kun
06-13-2009, 03:27 AM
I didn't used to outline before my WiP. I never knew how my stories were going to end until a few chapters before. However, since my current story started in my head by the ending, I was forced to outline a very rough idea of where my characters were going.

How they're going to get there, however, remains clouded, altough I have a few keypoints.

KTC
06-13-2009, 03:28 AM
Teachy, not preachy. Thin line.

Then I am sorry, but you better learn to comprehend that line...because you crossed teachy and rushed into preachy in your first paragraph.

Storyfixer
06-13-2009, 03:29 AM
Well, I think it is a much better way. Just like you think your way is. Interesting, all the personal attacks here. I've got the track record to stand in front of a group and state my opinion (I get paid to do it), and I value yours. Difference is, I won't get personal with it. Like most of you.

Salis
06-13-2009, 03:29 AM
Well, it's already been said to death, but one reason I really am not a fan of outlining is that a lot of the interest to writing (to me) is "finding out what is going to happen next". This sounds sort of silly--and obviously I have an idea of where I'm moving towards--but I think a stringent outline would make for more difficult writing on my end. If I know exactly what I'm going to do with everything, it makes the whole process of writing pretty boring to me.

I would say that a rough idea of what you want to do, the details you're going to flesh out is pretty necessary. Having absolutely NO IDEA where you want your story to head, for instance, would be pretty bad.

I think this is also one of those 'left-handed or right-handed?' debates. Some people operate better with lots of rules and restrictions and a completely definitive idea of what they need to do. Some people love freedom and want to just wing it. You see this all the time in different fields of work, writing is no different.

scarletpeaches
06-13-2009, 03:29 AM
I'm really trying to keep my cool here, but...


In a field in which nothing is certain and there is no right or wrong -- William Goldman said, "Nobody knows anything" in reference to the movie biz; same is true of the book biz -- I'm amazed at the defensive reflex demonstrated here to make someone who doesn't do it "your" way wrong.

Funny, people tend to get defensive when you talk down to non-outliners. And don't say you're not talking down to us when you post things like this:


For me, organic writing is crazy.

Sure, sure, you said 'for me'. But go back and read your other posts and try to work out why people's hackles are up.


And, in my experience (which I'll pay money is a thicker file than anybody's here),

Better get your wallet ready, darling, 'cause there are people on this board who could shit on your attitude from a very great height.


I've had more stubborn people than these tell me, after they've learned to outline correctly (from a criteria-based structure) that they were shocked and amazed.

Takes a stubborn person to know one. (Or a few).

For the record, my best friend on this site is an outliner and it's funny, but we manage to rub along just fine without insulting each other's methods. So it's not outliners who piss me off.

Just preachiness.

Clair Dickson
06-13-2009, 03:30 AM
Storyfixer... interesting that with all the words you've picked, you picked a title that is heavy handed and followed it up by saying how "insane" it is and how "defensive" the respondents are and how people more stubborn that us have been shocked and amazed by what you taught them.

Like King, there ARE other writes for whom the story DOES pour out organically, with peices falling into place as we write. This to me IS irrefutable proof that outline is NOT for everyone.

Perhaps if you weren't so heavy handed and clearly oppositional ("organic writing is just crazy!") then you wouldn't see defensiveness in the factual posting of people who have found their preference. Several of us are getting published this way... so I guess if crazy leads me to success, then find me a padded cell.*

*I am aware that "insanity" is no longer a valid psychological diagnoses.

KTC
06-13-2009, 03:31 AM
Well, I think it is a much better way. Just like you think your way is. Interesting, all the personal attacks here. I've got the track record to stand in front of a group and state my opinion (I get paid to do it), and I value yours. Difference is, I won't get personal with it. Like most of you.

I don't think I'm getting personal with it. I think you got personal with it when you happily called the way that you don't do things CRAZY.

I get paid too. Although...that doesn't matter at all.

sheadakota
06-13-2009, 03:31 AM
I think the defensive attitude comes from the fact that you are preaching (teaching) to the choir. Many residents of this board are very prolific, seasoned, PUBLISHED authors as well.

Salis
06-13-2009, 03:33 AM
Well, I think it is a much better way. Just like you think your way is. Interesting, all the personal attacks here. I've got the track record to stand in front of a group and state my opinion (I get paid to do it), and I value yours. Difference is, I won't get personal with it. Like most of you.

It's just action and reaction, man. It almost doesn't matter who you are, if you come in with a, 'By the way, this is the right way to do things. You can do it this other way, but that way sucks. My way is awesome' attitude, you're going to piss some people off. Personally, I don't care, but it's pretty predictable.

Add in 'Oh yeah, and extremely famous author X should stop telling people that he can write good books using a shitty method!' and you've got all the hallmarks of a provocateur.

Hell, look at Moorcock. The guy is one of the most influential authors living (in his field), but the second he opened up on Tolkien, he got countless people reaming him a new one.

Chasing the Horizon
06-13-2009, 03:38 AM
Well, call me crazy, I don't mind.

Anyone want eggs with their spam?
Only if they're green.

Storyfixer
06-13-2009, 03:40 AM
Well, I'll call it a style lesson, for which I thank you. Except Sallis -- again, chill. Outta here.

Kaiser-Kun
06-13-2009, 03:41 AM
-- again, chill.

http://tomofthailand.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/chillywilly.jpg

Summonere
06-13-2009, 03:41 AM
...Many great writers, like Stephen King, advocate responding to a story idea by simply sitting down and letting it rip, allowing the muse to take over and guide you toward your story... Such advice from writers who think their way is the only way is irresponsible and dangerous.

[Outline] And what you end up with is orders of magnitude BETTER than if you just winged it.

Does this work? Well, I sold the first draft of my first novel this way...
Curious: How many books a week were you reading before you wrote and sold your first book?

rugcat
06-13-2009, 03:41 AM
I've got the track record to stand in front of a group and state my opinion (I get paid to do it), and I value yours. Difference is, I won't get personal with it. Like most of you.Another difference is that this board contains many long time published authors who offer their advice and opinions gratis.


I base my writing workshops on this developmental process, and my instructional website. You owe it to yourself to investigate writing your next project this way..
Seems to me you may consider this board a fertile ground for signing up clients.

Kaiser-Kun
06-13-2009, 03:43 AM
Good thing they were irrefutable reasons.

ChristineR
06-13-2009, 03:46 AM
Does anyone have any hard evidence for the claim that non-outliners create more drafts than outliners? Or that outliners write faster once they get going? Anything like that?

I'm an outliner, by the way. At least, I think I am, I've never been sure how much you have to produce before it counts.

Rolling Thunder
06-13-2009, 03:47 AM
Let's keep the personal attacks off the thread, please. If you don't like the subject matter then just ignore it.

scarletpeaches
06-13-2009, 03:48 AM
Does anyone have any hard evidence for the claim that non-outliners create more drafts than outliners? Or that outliners write faster once they get going? Anything like that?

I'm an outliner, by the way. At least, I think I am, I've never been sure how much you have to produce before it counts.

If that's what you call yourself, then that's what you are. If it works for you, it works.

thethinker42
06-13-2009, 03:51 AM
Kids, kids... didn't say it was the only way... just another way if you're tired of writing draft after draft and still not getting it where you want it. It's all good, whatever works for you. Chill.

You said "it was the only way" when you put "irrefutable" and "need" in your thread title.


King says the story pours from his head, pretty much in tact. It pours from most of ours a scattered mess (which is why he should suggest we do it his way, as a rule). His "drafts" are tweaks and enhancements, the kind of thing everybody does.

I outline, but very, very loosely. I mean, it amounts to less than a page of more or less coherent "this, then this, then this". Very loose, very flexible, and usually adjusted a few dozen times before the end of the book.

My additional "drafts" are also tweaks. I send first drafts - sometimes within MINUTES of writing an individual chapter - to my two beta readers, and I'll leave it to them to tell you if they are "a scattered mess" or if they look like just slightly rougher versions of the final draft.


Hey, whatever works, just tryin' to help. I've had more stubborn people than these tell me, after they've learned to outline correctly (from a criteria-based structure) that they were shocked and amazed.We're not being stubborn, we're just taking exception to being told that we "need" to do it your way.

As I said, I'm an outliner...but I hardly do it "correctly" by your standards. Criteria-based structure? Pfft. I just write down enough to let me know what's probably going to happen. Very vague, very flexible. I let the story call the shots and adjust the "outline" accordingly.

I outline, I just don't do it your way...And I've managed to write 8 novels in 7 months that way, one of which is contracted, a second was before the company merged with another and dropped it, and 4 others are in the query queue while I work on #9. No one practice works for everyone...your "criteria-based, structured" outlines work for you. My general scribbles of what will probably happen work for me. Scarletpeaches' "we'll see what happens" works for her...as she says, "My books are character based rather than plot based, so a lot of what i discover about my characters comes out in the writing, so...i just write." Having read both of her current novels - AS SHE WRITES THEM, no less - I can assure you that it works QUITE nicely for her. There is nothing scattered or messy about her first drafts.


A gentle suggestion for the OP: AW isn't your typical writing board, so you may want to check things out a bit before assuming that people here are newbie or inexperienced writers. Just sayin'.

QFT.


Mine come from me intact too...as I am sure is the case with many writers. We are all different. When I'm rewriting, I tweak. A draft is a changed copy of the manuscript. Some people, believe it or not, just get the whole thing out at once.

Yep, me too. It's very, very rare that my final drafts differ all that greatly from the first. Just tweaks, nothing more.

As I said, I AM an outliner, but probably closer to winging it than not.


Funny, people tend to get defensive when you talk down to non-outliners.

Imagine that.


For the record, my best friend on this site is an outliner and it's funny, but we manage to rub along just fine without insulting each other's methods. So it's not outliners who piss me off.

Just preachiness.Amen to that.

Jersey Chick
06-13-2009, 03:56 AM
I've tried outlining, in detail, chapter by chapter, only to have the whole damn thing fall apart by about page 30. It happened on several different projects. Finally, I got fed up, chucked all my outlines, and what do you know? Stories flowed like crazy - in directions that where nowhere near where my outlines said they should be. Found out one of my heroes had an ex-wife that way. But they work. I've sold two novels and am awaiting a response on a third. Meanwhile, I've got books 4, 5, & 6 thisclose to being finished and number 6 was started about three weeks ago.

My way is just that my way. I would never assume it would work for anyone else. I wish I could outline. I'd love to be that organized, but my brain isn't wired for organization (as anyone who's seen the state of my office can attest) and trying to force myself into being something I'm not made me not want to write at all. I'd rather write 9 drafts (though I average 5-6) than nothing at all.

Just my $0.02, FWIW

Storyfixer
06-13-2009, 03:58 AM
Okay, after a ten minute breather, here's my final post, which should make you all very happy: I apologize if I offended anyone. Not my intention. This isn't spam, it's just an attempt to get involved in a community (changed my mind about that one, not a friendly place if you aren't "one of the gang", and if you don't "get" the culture here, which I obviously don't -- look at my picture, I look absolutely normal, which is really, really weird, don't you think?). I do feel passionately about writing, and about learning it from the inside out. I've found that your genre, which I love, leans toward organic writing, and that's fine. I'll leave you to it. Trust me, outside your genre, most people come around to story planning as at least an element of their writing practice. I've helped thousands of people -- that's fact, not brag - further their writing by advocating another way. If you choose to undervalue or demean that because I didn't say it right... well, in every classroom there's someone who has to make the teacher wrong. Human nature.

In teaching writing you throw stuff at the wall, you throw it with passion, and you hope some of it sticks. Normally people don't scrape it off the wall and throw it back at you -- being argumentative for argumentative's sake. Some of you make some great points. Point taken. Some of you embarrass yourselves, as you feel I did. Just a good old fashioned pissing match. Did I cross some lines? Absolutely. Hey, I'm human, I do that when my back is against the wall, and some of you are obviously practiced debaters and sarcastic wall-shit-flingers. So I'll leave you to it, and I wish you well. Again, with my apologies.

ChristineR
06-13-2009, 03:58 AM
Um, the first post turns out to be copypasta from his website/book for sale. Should I report that?

Jersey Chick
06-13-2009, 04:00 AM
Storyfixer, perhaps if you came in with a little less "this is how you MUST do it" and a little more, "Hi, I'm Storyfixer and I write this, this, and that", you'd probably find we're a pretty okay bunch.

But, if you want to flounce - that's your choice as well. Wouldn't be the first time, probably won't be the last.

IMHO, FWIW

Storyfixer
06-13-2009, 04:01 AM
Not remotely true. I wrote a similar article, but read it again. And then, please, do report it. And nothing on the website is for sale. Gee, finally a post that is as off-base as mine was.

Rolling Thunder
06-13-2009, 04:06 AM
This discussion is going in a vicious circle now. Closing.

James D. Macdonald
06-13-2009, 10:35 PM
I have Rolling Thunder's permission to open this back up.

I think there's a lot of value to discuss, but we all need to take a breath and not say the first thing that comes to mind. Think of it as ... outlining.

Assume the best of everyone. Good intentions, intelligence, experience....

In a bit I may even talk about outlining. As you can imagine, I have my opinions on that, too.

James D. Macdonald
06-13-2009, 10:37 PM
Oh, yeah, one more thing: If this thread heats back up, I'll close it again in a second, and I'm the one who decides what "heats back up" means.

brainstorm77
06-13-2009, 10:47 PM
No two authors write alike. I don't outline sometimes and other times I do. It really depends on what I'm working on.

Sean D. Schaffer
06-13-2009, 10:49 PM
I'm kind of an in-between type of guy. I mean, I will sometimes outline, and other times will not. Sometimes I just can't work with a story by the seat of my pants. Other times, outlining just doesn't cut it for me. I've learned through trial-and-error that what matters to me is story, not whether or not I outline. If my story needs an outline, I'll use it. If not, well, I think you all get the picture.

brainstorm77
06-13-2009, 10:52 PM
In regards of respect if someone gets out of hand then ban them for a couple of days, that usually cools them down.

Medievalist
06-13-2009, 10:52 PM
Does this work? Well, I sold the first draft of my first novel this way, and then three more. Only one required a rewrite at the editor's request. And this was with a major NY publisher. I base my writing workshops on this developmental process, and my instructional website. You owe it to yourself to investigate writing your next project this way... after 20 years of teaching, I've never had a writing student say it doesn't help them, even just a little (most say it has changed their writing life). Some say it's the best thing about writing they've ever heard.

Stephen King, you're a genius... but leave the teaching to the professionals.

1. I'd be a lot less suspicious of the marketing-dweeb spam-inspired "Come visit my Web site and give me your money" of this and your other posts if you weren't anonymous--What novels? What publishers?

2. You do realize that the canon authors largely didn't use outlining? That what works for you is not a divine process that works for every writer? That writers are not a one-size-fits-all component?

3. Twenty years of teaching? Got tenure? No? Twenty years as an adjunct lecturer with an MFA? How many of those students wrote the outline after the manuscript was finished because you required them to write an outline?

4. Outlining is a great tool if it works for you--and it does work for a lot of writers. But I'm troubled by anyone who sounds like they're selling the magic box that will "make you a successful writer."

5. There's an FAQ thread on outlining here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=79297) using a spreadsheet from J. M. McDermott (Bad Ducky); Macdonald has a great series of posts on how he uses outlining included in Katie Mac's collection of resources here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=657724&postcount=11). Outlining is just one tool that may or may not work for you; it's not the magic pill.

caromora
06-13-2009, 10:56 PM
There's no one size fits all--not for writers and not for the stories themselves. I love outlining, but it doesn't work for every story. The second story I wrote was outline resistant and I wasted months trying to hammer one out anyway. I could have written five drafts in that time.

As an artist, I think you have to be willing to keep your options open to the process and to the particular needs of each individual novel or story; you have to be willing to evolve.

icerose
06-13-2009, 11:14 PM
Mine really depends on the story. Sometimes they'll come to me pretty much fully formed or with so much steam behind them that I hammer them out very very quickly with no outline at all. Others take a very long time to push through the "what happens next?" and some don't get past that. I'm trying serious outlining for the first time on my newest novel. I have the outline in place, it's time to write, only by the end of it will I be able to say what sort of difference it made.

James D. Macdonald
06-13-2009, 11:16 PM
1. I'd be a lot less suspicious of the marketing-dweeb spam-inspired "Come visit my Web site and give me your money" of this and your other posts if you weren't anonymous--What novels? What publishers?


Just in case Larry doesn't come back:

Darkness Bound, Onyx, 2000
Pressure Points, Onyx, 2001
Serpent's Dance, Signet, 2003
Bait and Switch, Signet, 2004

His books are all thrillers. I've found that outlining is far, far more important in thrillers and mysteries than in some other genres I've worked in.

It's unfortunate that some of his posts looked like they came out of the How To Drive Traffic To Your Webpage! manual. That may have been accidental.

rugcat
06-13-2009, 11:34 PM
His books are all thrillers. I've found that outlining is far, far more important in thrillers and mysteries than in some other genres I've worked in. I agree.

But I've written two thrillers apart from my UF books, and even then, I can't really outline. It's not that i haven't tried, but it just doesn't work for me -- every time I try, I come up with something while writing that completely changes my original concept.

And second, i seem to have a difficult time coming up with good ideas just by mulling over the plot in my head -- or even writing a structure down --m although I sometimes can solve plot problems while walking the dogs.

But my best ideas come out of the actual process of writing -- one thing leads to another, etc. Then I have to make it all work in a larger structural sense. Admittedly, that's not the most efficient way to go about things, but it's not like i really have a choice.


It's unfortunate that some of his posts looked like they came out of the How To Drive Traffic To Your Webpage! manual. That may have been accidental.It's also unfortunate that those were also almost the first things posted upon his arrival here.

Medievalist
06-13-2009, 11:40 PM
But my best ideas come out of the actual process of writing -- one thing leads to another, etc. Then I have to make it all work in a larger structural sense. Admittedly, that's not the most efficient way to go about things, but it's not like i really have a choice.

For an awful lot of writers, whether they write fiction, non-fiction, drama, or poetry, writing is discovery. They sit down and write and don't really know quite what they're going to write until they've written it. Robert Parker has some smart things he's said about this in interviews--I'll see if I can find them.

I'm rapidly turning into a Parker fan.

Cranky
06-13-2009, 11:48 PM
For an awful lot of writers, whether they write fiction, non-fiction, drama, or poetry, writing is discovery. They sit down and write and don't really know quite what they're going to write until they've written it. Robert Parker has some smart things he's said about this in interviews--I'll see if I can find them.

I'm rapidly turning into a Parker fan.

I have tried, again and again, to outline. It works, maybe even for fifty or sixty pages. But after that, all the life gets sucked right out of my work. It gets leaden and ungainly. The prose sucks, the ideas get lame and predictable. Why? Because I've *predicted* them already.

Now, I can definitely see the virtue of having an outline, and it works for a lot of people. But after all this time, and many attempts at trying differing forms of outlining, I can safely say that it's an anathema to me. When I "just write", what comes out is "just right". It's whole, it flows, it adheres to it's own internal logic, and dammit, it just is ten times better than anything I have ever plotted or outlined ahead of time. If there's a magic bullet for me, outlining isn't it.

For others, outlining is necessary. But I doubt it is or should ever be Holy Writ for everyone.

BenPanced
06-13-2009, 11:56 PM
I've done outlines twice, and the one it was most beneficial turned out to be the spy story. I could see how you'd need one for something like that or a mystery, but I'm also of the opinion it depends on the author's personal needs and work style.

Christine N.
06-13-2009, 11:56 PM
Bleck. I don't respond when anyone tells me this is the way it MUST be done when it comes to writing.

I've written many books by sitting down and writing them. I've also started doing a little prep work before writing, and though I just finished On Writing this week, I will use character worksheets and plot graphs, if for nothing else as a bit of a road map. BUT I will also talk out parts of my story, and then sit down and write, because I get great material by doing it that way. I find outlines too rigid and limiting, and by the time I'm done with the outline, I'm bored of the story!

Which is WHY Mr. King advocates just sitting and writing until you get to "THE END" - to capture that enthusiasm that a writer has for a new story before it cools off. I've done this, and turned off the internal editor while I do it, and I've gone back and edited during a first draft. I like the first way better, because for me it works to just vomit up the entire thing. But that's because I LIKE REWRITING. It's way better than doing the first draft, I think, but that's me. I need to have all the pieces out in front of me before I can find all those that are missing and fill in the holes.

Nobody writes a perfect first draft, so it's no biggie to have to rewrite, and if it's something you like, you'll do a great second draft.

YMMV, of course.

ChristineR
06-13-2009, 11:56 PM
I'm repeating myself, but so what?

Does anyone have any hard data that outliners revise less, write faster, or make fewer structural changes as the book develops? I can't imagine writing a book where I didn't know the major details in advance. I've added subplot, but I knew the details of the subplot before I actually started writing it down. In general, when I start writing and let my characters run free, nothing happens to further the plot and it's at best sort of interesting.

Mr Flibble
06-13-2009, 11:57 PM
See I had this whole deep and meaningful post, spent ages typing it all out, it was philisophical dammit! - and the thread got locked. :(

All I can remember now is that nothing in the act of writing is irrefutable except these: 1) Use words 2) This doesn't work for me.

If I'd outlined and stuck to it religiously I'd never have had the bestest / most fun bits. The endings would be wrong. The characters would have been twisted to shape the plot as they grew in the telling, rather than their growth powering the plot.

In short, outlining isn't for me. Trying to say it essential will just make me cross. And saying it to someone who is less sure of themselves might stifle a writer to the point where they think because they can't outline they can't write. Which makes the OP a rather dangerous statement.

IMO ofc.

ETA: I remember Lawrence Block once wrote that he delayed writing for years because he was told you needed to have index cards and graphs and...etc and the whole idea put him off. It was only when he realised that he didn't have to do it that way that he started to write.


Does anyone have any hard data that outliners revise less, write faster, or make fewer structural changes as the book develops? The more experience I get in writing a whole novel, the less I have to revise ( at least plot wise) after.

Salis
06-13-2009, 11:58 PM
I have tried, again and again, to outline. It works, maybe even for fifty or sixty pages. But after that, all the life gets sucked right out of my work. It gets leaden and ungainly. The prose sucks, the ideas get lame and predictable. Why? Because I've *predicted* them already.

Now, I can definitely see the virtue of having an outline, and it works for a lot of people. But after all this time, and many attempts at trying differing forms of outlining, I can safely say that it's an anathema to me. When I "just write", what comes out is "just right". It's whole, it flows, it adheres to it's own internal logic, and dammit, it just is ten times better than anything I have ever plotted or outlined ahead of time. If there's a magic bullet for me, outlining isn't it.

For others, outlining is necessary. But I doubt it is or should ever be Holy Writ for everyone.

This is pretty much me, too. Which isn't to say that anything I write in the spur of the moment is fantastic--it isn't. Most of the time, it's pretty bad. I'm not even sure it's a technical matter: I don't think from-outline writing is worse objectively than what I'd write freely.

But from a purely personal standpoint, knowing everything that is going to happen makes writing boring, and maybe I'm alone in this, but one of the great things about writing is that it's often so fun because of that sense of discovery.

Sure, you have basic ideas about what is going to happen even without an outline, but the joy of coming up with something completely unprepared-for out of nowhere is a big part of what makes writing so entertaining to me.

Salis
06-14-2009, 12:01 AM
I'm repeating myself, but so what?

Does anyone have any hard data that outliners revise less, write faster, or make fewer structural changes as the book develops? I can't imagine writing a book where I didn't know the major details in advance. I've added subplot, but I knew the details of the subplot before I actually started writing it down. In general, when I start writing and let my characters run free, nothing happens to further the plot and it's at best sort of interesting.

I can see this viewpoint. It's valid, I think. I can only say that for myself, there's a sort of twisted joy in coming up with something entirely new out of nowhere, and then making it fit with the story as a whole.

I'd almost compare it to a really cerebral playing-with-legos session. There's something innately satisfying about making the disparate pieces all fit together, rather than having the whole puzzle complete before I start writing.

HelloKiddo
06-14-2009, 12:06 AM
2. You do realize that the canon authors largely didn't use outlining?

Do you (or anybody else) have examples of canon writers who did outline? I heard somewhere Virginia Woolf did, maybe?

Note: That was not meant to be snide, I'm genuinely curious.

CheshireCat
06-14-2009, 12:20 AM
Well, I think it is a much better way. Just like you think your way is. Interesting, all the personal attacks here. I've got the track record to stand in front of a group and state my opinion (I get paid to do it), and I value yours. Difference is, I won't get personal with it. Like most of you.

I think a number of us have a track record of success in publishing. And lots of us don't outline. I don't. Never have. And my way works for me.


Okay, after a ten minute breather, here's my final post, which should make you all very happy: I apologize if I offended anyone. Not my intention. This isn't spam, it's just an attempt to get involved in a community (changed my mind about that one, not a friendly place if you aren't "one of the gang", and if you don't "get" the culture here, which I obviously don't -- look at my picture, I look absolutely normal, which is really, really weird, don't you think?). I do feel passionately about writing, and about learning it from the inside out. I've found that your genre, which I love, leans toward organic writing, and that's fine. I'll leave you to it. Trust me, outside your genre, most people come around to story planning as at least an element of their writing practice. I've helped thousands of people -- that's fact, not brag - further their writing by advocating another way. If you choose to undervalue or demean that because I didn't say it right... well, in every classroom there's someone who has to make the teacher wrong. Human nature.



Okay, I don't get the "your genre" bit. What's up with that?

I write in multiple genres (including thrillers, for which I do not use outlines), as do others posting in this thread.

So? Anybody know what he's talking about there?

James D. Macdonald
06-14-2009, 12:27 AM
There was only one reason given in the OP, not five, and it was an argument from authority. Folks who are equal or greater authorities disagree.

People who want my thoughts on the subject, or some practical advice on How To Do It can look here: Uncle Jim Undiluted (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=102953). The ongoing conversation is happening here: Learn Writing With Uncle Jim (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6710).

Cyia
06-14-2009, 12:36 AM
See I had this whole deep and meaningful post, spent ages typing it all out, it was philisophical dammit! - and the thread got locked. :(

Me, too! :cry:

It even had the Red Pencil of Doom and spaghetti analogies. :(

Red Pencil of Doom because this is not a classroom, we're not the OP's students, and he's not our teacher. (Though if the OP was a bit less "my way is right" he might find people willing to listen to a different opinion.)

Spaghetti analogies because the last time I checked, I didn't throw my WIP at the wall to see what would stick, that's for pasta cooking. If I throw my computer at the wall, it will die and I'll need a new wall.

*tries to remember yesterday's post*

:Huh:

Ah!

Add me to the list of those who don't outline. My stories generally come to me in tact beginning to end and only need to be fleshed out. It's frustrating at times because I can't type fast enough to keep up with the flow, so I'll have to make a side note of a future scene, but it works for me. Outlining slows me down and the few times I've tried it, the end product never matches the outline as the characters rarely take my advice on what they should say and/or do.

virtue_summer
06-14-2009, 01:55 AM
I've started outlining in a fashion for my latest novel and it's going well. I started out storyboarding then when I got to a certain point it all kind of came to me enough so that I could write out a short synopsis including the major plot points for the whole book. I chose to do this because plotting is not my strong suit and has always frustrated me in the past. By getting it out of the way I now have the luxury of focusing instead on the part of writing that excites me which is more about figuring out how to express the story to the reader than in figuring out the story in the first place. But that's me. Every writer has their own way of working, just like we all have our own way of doing anything. I don't understand the need some people seem to have to tell other people that doing something differently is doing it wrong. It's not wrong. It's different. And if it works it works. That's the only criteria that should matter, not whether you outline but just whether whatever you do works for you.

ChaosTitan
06-14-2009, 02:08 AM
There was only one reason given in the OP, not five, and it was an argument from authority. Folks who are equal or greater authorities disagree.



I clicked on this thread hoping to see those five reasons. I was genuinely curious to see why I should be outlining.

:(

cooeedownunder
06-14-2009, 02:30 AM
I have never outlined - thought about it, but don't see how I can when I don't know what the story is about to start with. Letting the story unfold before me is what I enjoy about it, not trying to force the story or charachters somewhere.

Cranky
06-14-2009, 02:36 AM
This is pretty much me, too. Which isn't to say that anything I write in the spur of the moment is fantastic--it isn't. Most of the time, it's pretty bad. I'm not even sure it's a technical matter: I don't think from-outline writing is worse objectively than what I'd write freely.

But from a purely personal standpoint, knowing everything that is going to happen makes writing boring, and maybe I'm alone in this, but one of the great things about writing is that it's often so fun because of that sense of discovery.

Sure, you have basic ideas about what is going to happen even without an outline, but the joy of coming up with something completely unprepared-for out of nowhere is a big part of what makes writing so entertaining to me.

Oh, I definitely get bored when I outline, sure. I've already told myself the story when I do that, and so FOR ME, the passion is gone. However, I really do write better (objectively speaking) when it's unplotted and un-outlined. :D Doesn't mean that it doesn't getter better on edit, naturally. It's just that the material I have to work with on edit is much, much better.

sheadakota
06-14-2009, 02:46 AM
I have never outlined - thought about it, but don't see how I can when I don't know what the story is about to start with. Letting the story unfold before me is what I enjoy about it, not trying to force the story or charachters somewhere.
This is me as well. I start with a general idea and go with the flow and I do write thrillers- I agree it might be easier with an outline- but my brain doesn't work this way- if I make a mistake in the first draft I correct it in the second or third- But, and this is the important part- I never stop to correct it until the story is finished. If I do I find I will never finish but be in a constant state of editing. My way may not work for the OP but his way doesn't work for me either. There is no right or wrong here. Everyone has to find what works for them.

NeuroFizz
06-14-2009, 03:01 AM
Outlining "versus" organic writing (which is a loaded term in itself) is a false dichotomy because if one were to take into account the degree to which one "pre-plans" a writing session, we probably will find people whose techniques are all over the spectrum (if it is, in fact, a linear scale). If one thinks a scene through before writing it, but doesn't write any of those thoughts down, is that outlining*? In some ways yes and in some ways no, but it certainly doesn't shove that person's technique anywhere near the extremes of either/or "dichotomy." And there are so many in-betweens on the scale it becomes a huge "who cares?" It's what works. And what works for one person may not work for another. And with a single writer, what works for chapter one may not work for chapter seventeen. The OP has some strong thoughts, based on experience, on the process of outlining. His approach in conveying them was not a good one, particularly at AW where there are oodles of experienced writers and even more people who are learning at a rapid rate. I, too, had the feeling the original post was a piece of free advertising for the OP's writing coach business, but maybe that's just the way he approaches writing sites. He's an intelligent man. He'll get into the swing of AW quite quickly and, with his writing experience, he'll have a lot to contribute. I side with Uncle Jim. If we look past the way the original post was worded and go for a discussion on the ideas presented, we will have a thread that continues to increase in value.


*note I didn't say that person was an outliner. Discussing outlining is fine, but when people start to refer to outliners or organic writers, and claim the groups do this or that, it takes it away from a discussion of the process and opens it up to horrible generalizations about the people who use a process. And it contributes to a them versus us mentality, which is counter-productive in such a false or weak dichotomy. Keep the discussion on the process and on our experiences with it and we'll really have a good balanced thread, of tremendous use to those who are just learning their personal "best way."

Chasing the Horizon
06-14-2009, 03:03 AM
Okay, I don't get the "your genre" bit. What's up with that?

I write in multiple genres (including thrillers, for which I do not use outlines), as do others posting in this thread.

So? Anybody know what he's talking about there?

I was wondering about that too. Considering I can't figure out what my own genre is half the time, I'd love to hear the OP's take on it.

Medievalist
06-14-2009, 03:07 AM
Do you (or anybody else) have examples of canon writers who did outline? I heard somewhere Virginia Woolf did, maybe?

Note: That was not meant to be snide, I'm genuinely curious.

I know she outlined for Orlando; I honestly don't know about her other novels.

Dickens not only did outlines, he wrote entire family histories and notes about subplots in his back story--the ones for Bleak House are amazing. He reminds me a lot of the way TV writers for a series have a "story bible." I think he did that for all his novels, but wouldn't swear to it.

Heinlein wrote extensive prose synopses of his novels. Tolkien just started writing and has blistering comments about outlines for fictive and non fictive purposes both.

It's one of the things that will vary from writer to writer, and even from book to book.

Christine N.
06-14-2009, 03:33 AM
And I know that JK Rowling also did stuff like that - complete histories of wizarding familes and such. But to me that's not outlining, but research. I do the same thing, and I explained it to the students I spoke with yesterday this way: If I was going to write about my best friend, I'd know a lot about them - favorite flavor of ice cream, that she's allergic to peanut butter, etc...So writing all that stuff like history is my way of getting to know my characters before I introduce them to a reader.

Half of that stuff will never go into the book, but the reader will sense that I KNOW the characters and they won't seem flat. I don't consider that outlining at all.

ChristineR
06-14-2009, 03:52 AM
A few times I tried exercises where you describe your character's bedroom and favorite foods, stuff like that, and I never had any trouble coming up with something because I always feel like I know my characters intimately and exactly. But it never seemed to help me write the book--if there was a scene that took place in the bedroom, I would know immediately what the bedroom needed to be like, and if there weren't bedroom scenes, then the effort of writing it out was pretty much wasted.

Christine N.
06-14-2009, 03:59 AM
I have a stock worksheet for stuff like that, just fill in the blank. I'm always forgetting what color someone's eyes are and stuff, so they're handy. I also have a place to write how a character feels about certain things (school, work, etc) to give a baseline, and who they live with - mother, father, pets, etc... It does give me a deeper understanding of the person. Describing the bedroom is really just an exercise in characterization - you might never describe it, but you know what's in there and why, because a bedroom is a personal space that reflects the inhabitant. Again, just my nickel.

Stlight
06-14-2009, 04:00 AM
But from a purely personal standpoint, knowing everything that is going to happen makes writing boring, and maybe I'm alone in this, but one of the great things about writing is that it's often so fun because of that sense of discovery. - Salis


Hope I got the quote thing right.

I tried outlining once - got bored and trunked the story wihtout even getting the first chapter writen. Same as others on that.

My first draft is to see what the chracters want to do. This is when I get to know them. As I do the first draft I fill out the storyboard, which is about the characters and describes buildings and rooms that may matter latter. (Need to know which wall has the gun on it, right?)

Of course I was the student who had to write every term paper that required an outline (work it step by step through the weeks of the class - painful) in the first two weeks of class so I could write the outline. (Note of fact not brag - I tried for classes with term papers because that was always an A.)

I don't know outliners, but I think it was D. Hammitt (spelling - help?) of Lilian and Dash - who insisted on nine edits of everything.

As others I believe in the Bruce Lee school of writing- if it works do it.

Stlight

Christine N.
06-14-2009, 04:02 AM
I have a whiteboard where i organize thoughts for term papers - it works really well for me. I might make a chart to compare/contrast, or just jot thoughts. I've gotten A's on just about everything for the last four semesters.

wannawrite
06-14-2009, 04:02 AM
I use Post It notes. Seriously. When I start a story, I go through and jot down one or two words on an individual sticky note for each chapter...something that MUST happen to move the plot along. I stick 'em all on my desk, in order, then type away. If there is a weird twist that I haven't foreseen, or if something comes up that changes the plot, I yank down that sticky...or I add another. I might have a string of twenty sticky notes, all in a row, by the time I'm done...but somehow, I always manage to land where I was intending, and I don't forget to hit the high points, and my story stays flexible, just the same.

The secret is Post It notes, I tell you!

Not sure if that system means I outline, or not?

Dale Emery
06-14-2009, 04:13 AM
A few times I tried exercises where you describe your character's bedroom and favorite foods, stuff like that, and I never had any trouble coming up with something because I always feel like I know my characters intimately and exactly. But it never seemed to help me write the book--if there was a scene that took place in the bedroom, I would know immediately what the bedroom needed to be like, and if there weren't bedroom scenes, then the effort of writing it out was pretty much wasted.

If it isn't already part of the exercise, try adding information about the character's attitude toward what you're describing: What makes this a favorite? Why are these objects in the room? Why these decorations? How does the character feel about them? What led the character to obtain them? How did the character come to have them? What strong memories are associated with them?

These attitudes, beliefs, and motivations sometimes transfer to other situations and locations.

Dale

Sean D. Schaffer
06-14-2009, 04:20 AM
A few times I tried exercises where you describe your character's bedroom and favorite foods, stuff like that, and I never had any trouble coming up with something because I always feel like I know my characters intimately and exactly. But it never seemed to help me write the book--if there was a scene that took place in the bedroom, I would know immediately what the bedroom needed to be like, and if there weren't bedroom scenes, then the effort of writing it out was pretty much wasted.


I used to do that all the time, and that might be one major reason my present WIP is so involving and long.

Years ago, I had a Constitution for the country my WIP takes place in written out, I had pictures I had drawn of that country's currency; I had maps, character descriptions galore, and had basically built the world from the ground up, in tremendous detail. It was a lot easier for me to write the first version of this WIP than it was for me to write WIP's that did not employ this method, because I had a more solid foundation for the story when I finally did write it.

So you could possibly say that the way that works best for me is to get to know my characters, their world, etc., before I ever even start writing the story.... much like the method Stephen King talks about in On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft.

Ruv Draba
06-14-2009, 04:23 AM
I personally think that an outline is necessary to good dramatic writing, but I haven't seen any evidence that it's the first thing we must write.

An outline is like an X-ray of our stories, and we can imagine that each scene is like a bone. An outline shows that the story's bones are sound, functional, integrated and robust. Without a good skeleton, whatever flesh we write won't bind, and the story may twitch on the floor but it won't come to life and walk around. An X-ray doesn't make the bones solid, but it allows us to verify that they are. If we don't take an X-ray then we must rely on intuition and spot-checks which can be hit and miss. With an X-ray we can check bone by bone, joint by joint. Even experienced editors whose intuitions are great, benefit from running their intuitions over an outline and not just wading through scenes.

That's an argument for using an outline in editing, and I think it's a sound one -- but it's not an argument for using it in initial draft.

I think that whether you start with the meat and grow the bones, or start with the bones and grow the meat, or grow them together limb by limb is a creative choice. It depends on how your mind is wired, and there's a passion vs logic trade-off here. Passion is all about the characters, the mood, the crises, the changes, the surprises. Logic is all about the premise, the plot, the motives, the consequences, the scenes, the through-lines, the suspense. Some of us are stronger on one side than the other. Some of us can do both at once, like a drummer who can work the sticks and the pedals together; some need to do one at a time. Like drumming, both improve and integrate better with practice.

Personally, logic's my strong-suit, and my passion lives in a concrete bunker. I can spit out plot in hours, but need to spend weeks on character design and growth. I should be a natural outliner except for this fact: if I write straight from outline then all my characters are crap. And if my characters are crap then my scenes are turgid, no matter how well-structured they are.

If I develop my characters first then I'll naturally want to change my outline to suit their development anyway, so I've discovered that I'm a natural outliner who needs to improvise his scenes first. I've learned to spend a lot more time at the front of my stories writing throwaway scenes, character journals, snippets of dialogue than I spend outlining. I don't call those snippets my 'first draft'... I call the thing I've outlined my first draft. That other stuff is just design scraps; experiments and prototypes if you will.

Maybe as I get better at it, I'll be able to do both together -- and perhaps my natural aptitude for outlines will get me straight into a solid first draft. So far that hasn't happened yet though. Like any committed writer, I have to work toward quality first, then think about improving efficiency. I think that many of us are in the same boat.

raburrell
06-14-2009, 04:24 AM
My first story, I wrote an outline of around 90 pages before I started, and it made the first half of the book fly out of my fingers. (In retrospect, seems similar to the method recommended by Uncle Jim). I haven't decided whether to do it again on the next project.

There were times when the actual writing moved me in a different direction than the outline, and my CP just kept repeating "It's an outline, not a tombstone" until it sunk in. For me, that was enough to avoid the stifled feeling.

thethinker42
06-14-2009, 04:47 AM
This thread resulted in a lengthy discussion between SP and me about outlining, and we both blogged about it. Just in case anyone is interested...

Her blog (http://scarlettparrish.blogspot.com/2009/06/some-thoughts-on-outlining-and.html), discussing from the uncivilized perspective of a non-outliner.

My blog (http://navywifeadventures.blogspot.com/2009/06/evolution-of-outlining.html), discussing from the perspective of an OCD-outliner who is gradually moving towards the "winging it" end of the spectrum.

Jersey Chick
06-14-2009, 04:49 AM
I have a writer's notebook that's got separate sections for characters, plot (overall and chapter by chapter) setting, timeline, etc.

I've tried filling the entire thing out and, like Cranky, I get bored with my story. So, I've since filled out only the character section - it's very detailed for the hero and heroine, a little less for the secondary characters, and still less for minor characters. I fill out the major turning point and black moment, and as I write romance - the ending is pretty much standard HEA - it's just how the h/h get back together.

The rest - setting and timeline and all - gets used on an as-needed basis. So far, so good. I'm 3/4 of the way through a first draft I began about 3 weeks ago. But it works for me - as organized chaos usually does. I don't know it'd work for anyone else.

Chasing the Horizon
06-14-2009, 04:55 AM
Lookee, I'm going to actually contribute to the thread instead of making fun of it. :D

The talk about character worksheets reminded me of how weird my writing process is. I do detailed plot outlines and lots of notes for the world building, but never write a single sentence about the characters. Ever. My characters come to me fully formed and I can tell you every detail about them. Notes on them would be a pointless exercise in writing down things I already know, and will never forget. But without an outline of the plot, I get 100,000 words of character development with no plot or story in sight.

If I can keep track of all the characters for all my books without written notes, then it's certainly not hard to imagine how someone else could make a coherent plot without notes or an outline.

Christine N.
06-14-2009, 04:59 AM
I couldn't possibly remember everything about every character, especially if I ever write something so full of characters as Harry Potter, for example, that has a supporting cast of hundreds. My difficulties arose when I started a series, because things like horses's names escape me and I hate searching through previous books to find them :)

Medievalist
06-14-2009, 05:05 AM
This thread resulted in a lengthy discussion between SP and me about outlining, and we both blogged about it. Just in case anyone is interested...

Her blog (http://scarlettparrish.blogspot.com/2009/06/some-thoughts-on-outlining-and.html), discussing from the uncivilized perspective of a non-outliner.

My blog (http://navywifeadventures.blogspot.com/2009/06/evolution-of-outlining.html), discussing from the perspective of an OCD-outliner who is gradually moving towards the "winging it" end of the spectrum.

For people who are devoted outliners, do think about using an outliner program--there are free ones out there, if you don't like MSWord's outliner, and there are some really nifty ones for both Mac and Windows.

thethinker42
06-14-2009, 05:09 AM
I couldn't possibly remember everything about every character, especially if I ever write something so full of characters as Harry Potter, for example, that has a supporting cast of hundreds. My difficulties arose when I started a series, because things like horses's names escape me and I hate searching through previous books to find them :)

I can't remember every detail about my characters either, so I do keep track of it...however, I don't do it *prior* to writing the story.

Let's say, in chapter 2, someone mentions a character's eye color. I'll go back and make a note in the Excel document that serves as my outline/master file/whatever you want to call it (YES, EXCEL, I'M OCD, LEAVE ME ALONE). I do that to avoid continuity errors...but I don't plan it ahead of time.

Jersey Chick
06-14-2009, 05:24 AM
I don't usually have a problem keeping main characters straight - it's the supporting cast that gives me a pain. Someone's age changes, or their hair color changes and during revisions, I'm digging back through pages, muttering, "But I thought he was tall and blond, not short and dark..."

blech.

Matera the Mad
06-14-2009, 06:28 AM
I hated pre-outlining and notecard crud in school. My early atempts at writing a novel never left the planning and world-building stage. I finally realized that I am a winger and a back-and-forth writer. I have to do it my way or it doesn't get done. My approach is holistic, multi-angled, not linear and outline-bound. Nobody's pretentious pronouncements can change that.

blacbird
06-14-2009, 06:35 AM
Worth noting is that Leonard Bishop, in his great book Dare to Be a Great Writer, says that the best time to make an outline is after the first draft.

caw

Claudia Gray
06-14-2009, 07:06 AM
I outline religiously, and it works for me, but different strokes for different folks. I think there are probably as many ways to write a book as there are writers; the only wrong method is one that fails.

That said, I think a lot of people got so turned off by outlining for school papers that they never give outlining a fair shot with fiction. I'd encourage everybody to give it a try once and just see what they think. I've tried seat-of-the-pants, and man, that is not for me.

Dale Emery
06-14-2009, 07:12 AM
Are we talking only about outlining here, or all kinds of planning?

All: What kinds of planning or other preparation do you do ahead of time? What do you leave for the writing (or for the editing and revising)?

Dale

blacbird
06-14-2009, 10:51 AM
the only wrong method is one that fails.

Dam. All my methods are wrong.

caw

Christine N.
06-14-2009, 03:10 PM
Worth noting is that Leonard Bishop, in his great book Dare to Be a Great Writer, says that the best time to make an outline is after the first draft.

caw

And I've done that too - I have a nine-block plot chart to make sure all the parts fit together the way they're supposed to. I've filled it in after the first draft, using different colors for different plot lines, putting stickies on places where I want to change things on the next draft. Not an outline in the strict sense, but it is helpful too.

scarletpeaches
06-14-2009, 04:17 PM
Are we talking only about outlining here, or all kinds of planning?

All: What kinds of planning or other preparation do you do ahead of time? What do you leave for the writing (or for the editing and revising)?

Dale

I buy paper to print out the manuscript. :D

Adam
06-14-2009, 04:29 PM
[Something about having to outline]

PFFT!

ChaosTitan
06-14-2009, 05:45 PM
I personally think that an outline is necessary to good dramatic writing, but I haven't seen any evidence that it's the first thing we must write.


Until you wrote this, I hadn't realized something.

When I start a new book, I know who the characters are (basic deets), and I generally have an idea of the story. I don't outline ahead, but I do write an outline when I get to around the halfway mark. I outline what I've written so far, so I have a basic skeleton of what I've written--it gives me a better idea of where to take the book and how to end it. It's a particularly important step for me, because my basic plot is always a mystery of some sort.

When I'm finished the first draft, I complete the outline. It gives me the basic story at my fingertips and is quite useful when I'm editing.

Sean D. Schaffer
06-14-2009, 05:56 PM
Snipped....

All: What kinds of planning or other preparation do you do ahead of time? What do you leave for the writing (or for the editing and revising)?

Dale


Like I said earlier, my best method is to get to know my characters before actually writing the draft. This means character descriptions, sometimes drawings of them, writing about different technologies they might be using, who their friends and foes are, etc. It's a time-consuming process, but I find it works best for me because when I finally do go write the book, I already have everything developed and the support system for writing the book is already in place.

Basically, for the writing itself, I have found that the above method leaves only the story itself for the writing, and also I get a sense of adventure, like I'm a part of the story, when I have everything developed beforehand. I don't really get that when I haven't developed my world and its characters before working on the WIP.

calley
06-14-2009, 06:29 PM
I used to be a firm "Pfft, outlining. That'll suck the life out of my story." camper. Now... I'm swinging to the other side, rapidly. Three novels sans outline that have needed massive, scrap-60+-pages rewrites have me outlining quite merrily for my next. So far, it feels gloriously nice. I'm finding all those questions that I'd hit mid-draft, and I'm workin' them out ahead of time. It's taking days out of the start of my writing... but I'm also fleshing out scenes and characters in my head, and figuring out the best place to begin the story for those make-or-break five pages.

I <3 teh outlines, me thinks. We'll see how the actually writing goes, once this little guider is finished.

scarletpeaches
06-14-2009, 06:33 PM
Funny, I just had a weird minute. (Yes, only a minute).

I 'watched' my final scene in my head and had to tell Lori about it on MSN only she doesn't want to know - she wants me to GGIW (our shorthand for gerronwi' gerrin' it writ).

Anyway, it fits in so stupendously well with everything that's gone before you'd think I'd planned it.

Which kinda puts the tin hat on the OP's allegations.

I'm doing quite nicely this way, thanks. :D

Christine N.
06-14-2009, 06:39 PM
Stuff like that happens all the time -sometimes I think our brains keep secrets from us, allowing us to write things that work out perfectly later, even though we don't see it while writing it.

It's fun.

Linda Adams
06-14-2009, 06:41 PM
I'm in the crowd of still learning what I need to do and trying to understand the best way to get there.

I started out writing short stories, and when I went to novels, a lot of people around me told me that I must outline it. Not only that, I was regularly reading Writer's Digest and The Writer and seeing articles where the writers proclaimed that outlining was the only way to get published--of course with their method.

I tried the outlines on short stories, and they didn't work well (probably more owing to the fact that my short stories were 1,500 words or less). I often lost interest in the story once I outlined it. So when I went into my first novel, I didn't outline it. I just started writing.

I did run into serious problems and ended up not finishing that novel. Though in hindsight, outlining or not didn't have anything to do with it. If I'd outlined, I'd have still run into exactly the same problems, and they would have been equally unfixable. I originally thought about rewriting it and was desperate enough to solve the problems that I thought about outlining. I started one, and while I got interesting results from it, it generally did not work for me (I used an index card one from a book in plotting. It involved using colored stickers to identify plot, subplot #1, subplot #2, etc).

My next book, a cowritten project, didn't have one. I ended up doing something like 30 revisions on it to get the story into the story, and it took forever (the finished project ended up trunked due to problems with the cowriter). My experience from this book suggested I needed to do some kind of outline so maybe I didn't have to do so much work revising.

So I experimented with a lot of of different outlines to see what did work for me. I finally ran into one in a Book in a Month that looked promising (though it ultimately was a no-go because the writer of the book applied screenplay techniques to novels and had never actually published a novel). What BIM did for me was eliminate a trouble area that was stalling me a lot: Subplots. She advocated writing a fast first draft without subplots. So I wrote the first draft like that.

Then I did an outline. It was a very loose, vague outline. One of the things I discovered in all my different attempts was that I can't deal with the structured, detailed outlines that most people preach about. I need something that allows room to grow. My stories are plot-driven, so it was important to have a direction to go in, though not necessarily specific details.

And I'm still not sure if it helped or not. The story was more solid and had less changes, but I can't point a finger at the outline and say it helped. But I can point my finger at something else and say that it did help--and that was that I spent a lot of time working out what the query letter was going to say before I wrote the story. That story summary was always in the back of my mind as I wrote, not the outline. I did not have one on any of the previous projects, nor did I understand what "story" was.

And truthfully, there were details that I had to keep vague in the outline because I couldn't figure out how to solve them until I started revising. Like the bad guy. I did not know who the bad guy was until I started revising (went through four bad guys).

The outline also didn't help me forsee a number of problems--all of them related to subplots. I included them in the outline, but when it came time to writing them, I went through more than 20 subplots trying to figure out a way to incorporate them in, but the story didn't want subplots. The outline didn't tell me that, but the story sure did. I ended up removing all of them.

I'm finishing the book up now, and I've been thinking about the next one. I'm still not sure what my approach will be yet.

scarletpeaches
06-14-2009, 06:42 PM
Stuff like that happens all the time -sometimes I think our brains keep secrets from us, allowing us to write things that work out perfectly later, even though we don't see it while writing it.

It's fun.

I hate what I'm about to do to my male MC though.

I'm glad my brain kept this secret. :( I wouldn't have had the heart to write up to this if I'd known.

Well...the ending was always there, but how it affects the male MC has changed, if you get my drift.

Manix
06-14-2009, 06:48 PM
I just told somebody yesterday that my book was writing itself as if I was reading it.

I would ask questions of the unwritten text like, "Why do the X want to kidnap Y? What do they hope to gain?"

*Because he got bit on the ear in book one, don't you remember?*

"Oh, yeah! That's right! I forgot all about that! But what happened when he got bit?"

*That's when he got the Q infestation, silly! Weren't you paying attention in chapter two when the MC had to undergo the exorcism? Duh...!*

That's how the conversation goes in my head. And I'm like...OMG! You're right! Duh...!!!

I got so excited. I love watching my own movies.:tongue

Summonere
06-14-2009, 06:48 PM
My theory is that anyone who reads bunches and bunches builds up and stores a collection of story patterns somewhere in their brain, and when they sit down to write off-the-cuff, sans outline, whatever they cook up will quite naturally fall into one of those patterns, or an interesting combination of those patterns. The more widely that you read, the more such patterns that you collect, allowing you more ease and latitude of storytelling.

This certainly doesn't mean that you'll tell a good story, but it likely means that you'll be able to bang one out with all, or at least most, of the important parts intact.

Thus, per this discussion, it may be that some writers intuit patterns, and others have to construct them beforehand. The reason may be as simple a matter as pattern collection voracious readers acquire many and refresh them regularly whereas less voracious readers don't; but it may also be that some brains don't hold this information in the same way, or release it, without the process of an outline.

scarletpeaches
06-14-2009, 06:50 PM
Interesting theory, Summonere, and it's something I've toyed with myself. Have to say it has the ring of truth to it.

Summonere
06-14-2009, 07:22 PM
Interesting theory, Summonere, and it's something I've toyed with myself. Have to say it has the ring of truth to it.

My suspicion is that the preference for writing one way versus another may be an indicator of right-brain vs. left-brain dominance, but in that direction my musings will likely sound like crackpot theory, since I'm not a scientist. I do know, however, that when I look at the spinny dancer silhouette that someone posted here (http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,22556281-661,00.html) a long time ago, I can only see it spinning one direction, no matter how hard I try to trick myself into seeing it go another way. I also know that I don't outline, and my stories seem to work themselves out okay. (I have yet to try my hand at a mystery or thriller, though, which could change all that.)

scarletpeaches
06-14-2009, 07:26 PM
I know next to nothing about left- versus right-brain or what either controls.

The strange thing is, writing is the only thing in my life for which I don't have an outline.

Even my chores are carried out on set days of the week - Monday for the hall, bathroom and kitchen. Wednesday for the living room. Friday for the bedroom.

We won't discuss the spare room and the horrors therein. ;)

I have appointments, routine, a schedule. And yet with writing? Hit and miss. Feast or famine. Flying by the seat of my pants.

Yeah, I'm screwed up.

ChristineR
06-14-2009, 07:45 PM
My theory is that anyone who reads bunches and bunches builds up and stores a collection of story patterns somewhere in their brain, and when they sit down to write off-the-cuff, sans outline, whatever they cook up will quite naturally fall into one of those patterns, or an interesting combination of those patterns. The more widely that you read, the more such patterns that you collect, allowing you more ease and latitude of storytelling.

This certainly doesn't mean that you'll tell a good story, but it likely means that you'll be able to bang one out with all, or at least most, of the important parts intact.

Thus, per this discussion, it may be that some writers intuit patterns, and others have to construct them beforehand. The reason may be as simple a matter as pattern collection voracious readers acquire many and refresh them regularly whereas less voracious readers don't; but it may also be that some brains don't hold this information in the same way, or release it, without the process of an outline.

I don't think there's any reason to believe that outliners are less voracious readers, though. Maybe we read different kinds of books because our minds work differently, but even so, you get so many variations in taste in books that I doubt you'll get much of a pattern there at all.

And the other point I'd like to make is that outliners also bang out a story line, we just do it at a different point in the process. Story first, then fill in details.

blacbird
06-14-2009, 08:53 PM
I'm in the crowd of still learning what I need to do and trying to understand the best way to get there.

You'll never leave that crowd. Nobody does.

caw

Summonere
06-14-2009, 09:05 PM
I don't think there's any reason to believe that outliners are less voracious readers, though. Maybe we read different kinds of books because our minds work differently, but even so, you get so many variations in taste in books that I doubt you'll get much of a pattern there at all.

And the other point I'd like to make is that outliners also bang out a story line, we just do it at a different point in the process. Story first, then fill in details.

That's likely quite true -- that both outliners and non-outliners read a similar amount -- but since I haven't surveyed reading habits among working writers, I really don't know. Working writers I know do, however, tell me that they read, and that they read a lot. Doesn't appear to matter if they're outliners or not.

What I suspect may be going on when I consider this...



it may also be that some brains don't hold this information in the same way, or release it, without the process of an outline.
...is that the non-outliners may more readily have at their disposal any number of patterns that they can bring into a work in order to complete it while they are in the midst of making it up. Outliners, on the other hand, may less readily have those patterns at their disposal while in the midst of construction and thus plan ahead with an outline.

In other words crackpot theory time this may point to the differences between right-brain dominance and left-brain dominance, the nonlinear versus the linear. The right-brain may more readily see all of the story at once, formed, forming, and unformed, while it's being written, and have a fair grasp of what are likely useful story options and what are not. The left-brain may not be able to do so, or at least not so readily, without handling the information some other way, that other way being an outline. One sees the forest. One sees the trees.

KTC
06-14-2009, 09:14 PM
My theory is that anyone who reads bunches and bunches builds up and stores a collection of story patterns somewhere in their brain, and when they sit down to write off-the-cuff, sans outline, whatever they cook up will quite naturally fall into one of those patterns, or an interesting combination of those patterns. The more widely that you read, the more such patterns that you collect, allowing you more ease and latitude of storytelling.

This certainly doesn't mean that you'll tell a good story, but it likely means that you'll be able to bang one out with all, or at least most, of the important parts intact.

Thus, per this discussion, it may be that some writers intuit patterns, and others have to construct them beforehand. The reason may be as simple a matter as pattern collection voracious readers acquire many and refresh them regularly whereas less voracious readers don't; but it may also be that some brains don't hold this information in the same way, or release it, without the process of an outline.

I really like this idea too.

NeuroFizz
06-14-2009, 09:18 PM
I don't think there's any reason to believe that outliners are less voracious readers, though. Maybe we read different kinds of books because our minds work differently, but even so, you get so many variations in taste in books that I doubt you'll get much of a pattern there at all.

And the other point I'd like to make is that outliners also bang out a story line, we just do it at a different point in the process. Story first, then fill in details.
Here we go again, talking about outliners instead of outlining, throwing out bullshit generalizations about a group of people who have nothing more in common than they share a method of writing fiction (no matter how hard one tries to generalize other common characteristics without a thread of any kind of properly controlled study). And this is why these theads degenerate into the us versus them uslessness that stirs emotions and swirls the threads into crap. Concentrate on the process not the people. Don't try to generalize and shove people into a particular box when that box is based on a false dichotomy. And leave the right-brain, left-brain crap out of it. That is probably the worst generalization to come down the amateur psychology pike in, oh, forever. Putting people into one of two boxes like that makes it easy for people feel better about their way of doing things and so easy to put others down for theirs. And, as far as I know, there is a corpus callosum that allows a great deal of communication between the two cerebral hemispheres so that, once again making a dichotomy out of human polymorphism, creates useless categorization and ignores the tremendous variation we see between individuals.

Please discuss experiences with the process of outlining versus the process of using other methods, realizing that it's not an either/or thing, but a gradation of in-betweens. Please don't use it as a method to classify people and then generalize about their psychological make-up, their reading habits, how they felt about their mothers, or whether in one-half of the populatoin, it hangs to the right or the left.

Medievalist
06-14-2009, 09:39 PM
Concentrate on the process not the people. Don't try to generalize and shove people into a particular box when that box is based on a false dichotomy. And leave the right-brain, left-brain crap out of it. That is probably the worst generalization to come down the amateur psychology pike in, oh, forever.

There's an important observation here that needs to be more widely noted; people are all over the map and difference does not equal "wrong." I know, no one said it did here, but that's not that far a jump from a desire to label, and then create a hierarchy.

MacAllister
06-14-2009, 09:48 PM
Uncle Jim has a terrific discussion of different methods for organizing a book (call it outlining if'n you want) in the Learn Writing with Uncle Jim thread. I'll go and hunt up a link or three so I can come back with an ETA

I know people who wing it entirely from page 1 (Diana Gabaldon talks about starting one of her books with nothing more than a mental image of drops of blood in the snow, then writing the entire book to work out the story of those drops of blood); people who use notecards to keep track of important events, write the scenes out of sequence, then them splice 'em together with transition passages; people who keep meticulous spreadsheets; and people who do a sort of pidgin synthesis, only "outlining" the trickier bits; then some folks work best just having a very broad and very brief roadmap with the major points of interest, then they write their way from point to point.

I'm definitely in the "if it works, then do it" camp. While I do believe writing craft can be taught, I just roll my eyes at the "Writing! UR doin' it wrong" tone of the OP.

ETA:
The Learn Writing With Uncle Jim thread (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6710&highlight=outline)
Index to the Uncle Jim thread (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8754)
Outlining (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=82992&postcount=702)
Outlining and Plotting (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=82509#post82509)

Alternative outlining exercises (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=144856&highlight=outline)
HapiSofi saying smart things about writing in general (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=82911&postcount=621)

willietheshakes
06-14-2009, 09:56 PM
I jumped ahead from page one to see just how a thread responding to what I saw as a blatantly spamming OP could possibly have reached five pages, and lo and behold, it actually turned out to be a worthwhile thread, despite its commercial origins. Well done, all!

Cassiopeia
06-14-2009, 10:07 PM
I know people who wing it entirely from page 1 (Diana Gabaldon talks about starting one of her books with nothing more than a mental image of drops of blood in the snow, then writing the entire book to work out the story of those drops of blood); l (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=82911&postcount=621)I am a huge fan of hers. I hadn't heard this. Pretty incredible when you think about it.

MacAllister
06-14-2009, 10:23 PM
I am a huge fan of hers. I hadn't heard this. Pretty incredible when you think about it.I remember it from an interview I read, some years ago. I thought it was pretty amazing, too.

The Lonely One
06-14-2009, 10:35 PM
I just have to say that this kind of writing advice is not only something I'm weary of, it's exhausting mentally to be told "listen, what can I do to put you in this '94 Ford Taurus?" about my fiction.

I'm actually afraid of this kind of thing reaching new writers. It's petrifying (I'm talking tree sap) to tell someone a single method is best on any topic. Breathing perhaps being the exception. Even then you have to choose mouth or nose, and what if someone has a cold? Go ahead and convince them to tape their mouth shut and breathe out of their nose. Because that's what this nonsense equates to.

You can throw published authors at me all day. It's still garbage. As this thread has shown, we can throw published authors right back, and really tossing published authors around as proof of anything is just stupid. Plus they have writing to get back to and they likely don't appreciate being airborne.

There are plenty of sources out there telling you how to do this or that in fiction. But you'll get more out of a fiction book than you will out of all those books combined.

I feel I would be much more receptive to a post that poses a question or makes it clear that the posted statement is an opinion, rather than being told 'winging it' is by fact ineffective next to outlining. That, if we write like King we will be doomed to write 10,000 drafts regardless of which writer attempts it.

Just. Plain. Wrong.

claire
06-14-2009, 10:42 PM
I don't outline, although I do sometimes draw charts and make notes when what's pouring forth gets to be too much to remember.

I almost always start a book with a very clear mental image of a scene that I write out and then the rest of the book is written to make sense of that original scene.

Which doesn't always even end up being in the final draft.

I suppose I could outline and make it work, but for me the synchronicities that happen while writing "organically" are so much more fun and interesting. I love when little details I wrote in not really knowing why later become illuminated as very integral parts of the story.

All that said, it seems clear that everyone has his/her own best method and I wouldn't presume to try and tell ANYone that one way is superior. A good writing teacher helps the student discover his/her own best process.

HelloKiddo
06-14-2009, 11:54 PM
I know she outlined for Orlando; I honestly don't know about her other novels.

Dickens not only did outlines, he wrote entire family histories and notes about subplots in his back story--the ones for Bleak House are amazing. He reminds me a lot of the way TV writers for a series have a "story bible." I think he did that for all his novels, but wouldn't swear to it.

Heinlein wrote extensive prose synopses of his novels. Tolkien just started writing and has blistering comments about outlines for fictive and non fictive purposes both.

It's one of the things that will vary from writer to writer, and even from book to book.

Dickens was an outliner? Interesting! You learn something new everyday. Thanks for the info.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
06-15-2009, 12:20 AM
That's interesting about Tolkien. It seems possible to wing it when writing a first book in a trilogy but then use some outlining for the sequels. I can believe he made it up in one go all the way through. He is a story teller at heart, someone who could entertain an audience without preparation.

I like to let things bubble up, give the creative side of the brain free reign while the other side steers in the process. Ambidextrous thinking, excuse the hand-brain mixup. It seems the way science and art progresses.

Ton.

Medievalist
06-15-2009, 12:51 AM
That's interesting about Tolkien. It seems possible to wing it when writing a first book in a trilogy but then use some outlining for the sequels. I can believe he made it up in one go all the way through. He is a story teller at heart, someone who could entertain an audience without preparation.

The thing about Tolkein is that he was interested in the languages more than the stories; the stories were in part because he was creating mythological fill for his languages and the rules behind phonological changes and etymology.

He revised endlessly. He was one of those writers' that ultimately and editor pretty much has to physically wrest the manuscript away from the writer or it never will be done.

Mr Flibble
06-15-2009, 12:56 AM
Even Tolkien would do a loose outline - at points he would stop and sketch out a loose 'Where I see the story going from here'. Which are available to look at. He didn't keep to them much though - they seemed to be more 'things to aim for, possibly'

Aragorn marrying Eowyn, then she dies at the Battle of Pelenor Fields and he refuses to marry anyone else so the line dies with?

He didn't stick to them because better things occured as he went along. These 'sketches' make pretty interesting reading though.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
06-15-2009, 01:14 AM
Are there be good books on this topic; historical works discussing the various ways writers approach their writing? I'd be interested to read one. I come from a very different background and am new to fiction writing. I found historical works to be useful in other fields. Can you share some references?

Ton

HelloKiddo
06-15-2009, 01:44 AM
Are there be good books on this topic; historical works discussing the various ways writers approach their writing? I'd be interested to read one. I come from a very different background and am new to fiction writing. I found historical works to be useful in other fields. Can you share some references?

I would love to read that too.

If it hasn't been written maybe one of the writers on this site will take your million-dollar idea and make it a reality. Two copies sold already for anybody who does so!

Medievalist
06-15-2009, 01:52 AM
Are there be good books on this topic; historical works discussing the various ways writers approach their writing? I'd be interested to read one. I come from a very different background and am new to fiction writing. I found historical works to be useful in other fields. Can you share some references?

Ton

This is an entire field of study in composition and rhetoric; the writing process. There are lots of books. It's also worth looking at the mss. of writers who are dead and famous--Dickens, Woolf, Elliot, Hemingway, Faulkner--there are lots of resources about how they wrote, and revised. You mostly need a good college library for the books though.

FOTSGreg
06-15-2009, 01:59 AM
Hmmm, I haven't read the entire thread yet and may have additional comments regarding outlining later, but it occurred to me that my first drafts could reasonably be considered my outlines. My first draft of Hatchings was about 65 thousand words. It got the basic story and research down and was done in 35 writing days (90 days with research).

Seven drafts later on that one book and it's at least 100 thousand words and I'm still finding problem spots and plotholes that need filling in, but now it's a story, not just a sketchy plot and series of vaguely interconnected scenes.

:-)

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
06-15-2009, 02:11 AM
Thanks Medievalist, I'm never far from a campus as it happens, I'll keep it in mind. And thanks for the compliment HelloKiddo. I'd be very happy if someone would run with it and distill interesting facts on writing styles to share with us all ...

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
06-15-2009, 02:24 AM
I love when little details I wrote in not really knowing why later become illuminated as very integral parts of the story.

Perfectly put :)

Matt Willard
06-15-2009, 05:18 AM
All I can say is pick your poison, friends-find out what works for you.

The Lonely One
06-15-2009, 06:56 AM
All I can say is pick your poison, friends-find out what works for you.

Alas! There be common sense! Rep points all around.

blacbird
06-15-2009, 07:52 AM
All I can say is pick your poison, friends-find out what works for you.

But -- what if nothing does?

caw

Elidibus
06-15-2009, 01:32 PM
I'm sorry. I saw the title of the thread and I just had to come here. I read the first page and the last page and if I could just interject real fast.

I will never, ever, EVER write an outline. As God as my witness, I'll never Outline again!!!

I hate outlines so much that the mere thought of me doing one brings the bile in my stomach to the tip of my tongue. And to suggest there are actually refutable reasons to do it. And FIVE? (ok, so there was only one really, but still.)

Opinions are fine. And I respect those that outline and the works they create. My mind does not and has never worked that way. It is much easier for me to "picture the blood on the snow and start writing" than to sit down and waste time planning a plot that I won't even stick to.

I loathe outlines. I don't mind people suggesting to a person to "Try an outline and see if it works" because it might for that person. But to suggest that everyone should is like telling everyone to listen to music while they write. It just throws some people off and makes them frustrated.

There are other options. You know what the right one is? And here's some good advice. The right one is the method that works best for you. I'm sure many people have said it, but it warrants repeating. Chose for yourself. Do NOT assume what works for one person will work for you, because it may not (like how outlines actually stifled my creativity and caused me years of anguish back in my school years)

/end rant

Sean D. Schaffer
06-15-2009, 06:26 PM
I've noticed that when I do end up writing an outline, my creativity kind of goes down the drain too.... especially when I write really detailed ones. The kind of outline that worked best for me, has always been the really basic one. The kind that has the overall gist of the story but doesn't go into every specific action or list out every single scene. I know doing detailed outlines works for a decent amount of people, and that's good. But for me, if I use an outline at all, it's the simple kind. Like I said earlier in the thread, my best work comes not through outlining, but through world-building and character development. Having a set of good, solid characters and a well set-up world lays a bedrock-firm foundation for all the stories that come out of it.

Of course, like I said in another thread, the stories don't all pan out. But there is so much more detail and solidity within the characters, even in the stories that don't work out, that I now understand my works highly benefit from these activities.

One thing I will add to this is that over the last five years or so, I've gone from developing my characters to the highest extent and building my world as firmly as I possibly can, to just writing basic descriptions-- if any-- of my characters and developing my worlds while in the process of writing. That not only takes away the firm foundation, it makes me feel like I'm building my work on mud. I suppose every writer learns best from their own experience, and in my experience, character- and world-building gives me a much more satisfying finished work than merely writing an outline or just winging it.

Namatu
06-15-2009, 06:55 PM
The strange thing is, writing is the only thing in my life for which I don't have an outline.It's possible we're related. I'm the same way. The way I see it, all that structure needs an opposite somewhere in the mix to balance things out, the speck of yin in the yang. Writing without a plan makes up for all that structure everywhere else.

underthecity
06-15-2009, 06:58 PM
I re-read the original post and realized that while storyfixer suggests outlining may be a viable option, he never says exactly how to outline.

I mean, there are simple outlines, and there are detailed outlines.

Which one does he advocate? For my book, I created the simplest of outlines: this happens, this happens, this happens, this happens, then this happens. It was written in form of a verbally-told story, as though I were "pitching" the story. Then, after I started writing the book, the story went off in different directions than that original "outline," if that's what it was at all.

The outlines we had to write in school that someone mentioned a couple of pages back were the detailed outlines that looked like this:

1. Chapter One, Tom Finds the Key
1A. Tom explores the scary old house he just moved into.
1B. Tom somehow uncovers house's mysterious past.
1C. Tom realizes house was slaughterhouse in 1900.
1D. Tom finds a key that opens something in house.
1D1. Tom touches key, has psychic flash of evil.
2. Chapter Two, Tom starts new job.

etc. etc. etc.

Is this the kind of outline storyfixer is talking about? I think I'd go out of my mind if I tried to predevelop, preplan, and pre-explore every detail before I wrote a thing. Wouldn't that take away some of the spontaneity that comes from organic writing. (Say that the outline dictates that Tom is now "possessed" by an evil spirit after touching the key, and the outline insists that chapters 5, 10, 20, and the climax depend on that action. However, upon writing the story, you discover that the key represents some other important action and that chapters 5, 10, 20, and the climax must now be rethought because of it.)

Perhaps storyfixer will come back and tell us.

DeadlyAccurate
06-15-2009, 06:59 PM
Sorry, this was tl;dr, but did the OP ever indicate they had significant writing credits to their name? I mean, on par with the average published writer on this board? We have quite a few writers here with five, ten, twenty, thirty books published, and they don't usually feel the need to tell us the "right" way to write one, especially in the outline/no outline controversy. So, does this OP have a justification for why their way is supposedly the only way to write a book?

I admit, while I have some publishing credits, I've never published a novel. But I have written nine of them, and my agent seems to feel the ones she's submitted are good enough to publish. I'd never tell someone there's only one way to write a novel, so I can't help but be curious why the OP thinks he or she knows more about writing than I do. I don't feel I know enough to go around dictating right or wrong ways. But maybe the OP is regularly on the bestseller lists and knows something all the other NYT bestellers around here don't know.

ChristineR
06-15-2009, 07:11 PM
Storyfixer has some legitimate best selling thrillers, they're linked to up there somewhere.

FOTSGreg says his first drafts are outlines. In that sense, don't all of us outline? No matter where the outlining falls in the writing process, don't all of us create a plotline at some point?

I was thinking about the whole right/left brain model, which I actually don't place much stock in, and I decided that outlines are more right brain, which is the opposite of what was said before. Outliners see the whole book, or at least the main plot points, before they begin. On the other hand, outlining sounds like it would be analytical--i.e., left-brained.

Like I said, I don't place much stock in the model, and have never had much success in figuring out which one I am.

Roger J Carlson
06-15-2009, 07:16 PM
Perhaps storyfixer will come back and tell us.This seems unlikely.

scarletpeaches
06-15-2009, 07:22 PM
...FOTSGreg says his first drafts are outlines. In that sense, don't all of us outline? No matter where the outlining falls in the writing process, don't all of us create a plotline at some point?

No; my first drafts are books, not outlines.

Messy, in need of edits, yes. But a 150k outline? Don't think so. Plot progression, character development, etc, they're all there. So are a few rogue adverbs, but meh...I'll edit those out.

Libbie
06-15-2009, 07:30 PM
I am a huge fan of hers. I hadn't heard this. Pretty incredible when you think about it.

Right, and Ursula LeGuin came up with The Left Hand of Darkness (one of my favorite books) from nothing more than the mental image of two men pulling a sledge across a snow field. Amazing.

I find it fascinating, the different ways authors go about creating their books.

CaroGirl
06-15-2009, 07:32 PM
There are so many different ways to outline a novel that it makes this whole argument laughable. Not only different ways, but different degrees of outlining. One writer might make an outline that's so brief and loose it's more like a guideline than an outline, while another might write so detailed an outline, the writing itself becomes merely filling in the blanks. It seems a matter of whether the writer spends her time mostly at the front or the back end of the writing process.

The preachy stance of "One Must Outline to be Successful" as a novelist sounds like bollocks to me.

Libbie
06-15-2009, 07:37 PM
Sorry, this was tl;dr, but did the OP ever indicate they had significant writing credits to their name? I mean, on par with the average published writer on this board?

Or, y'know, Stephen King?

I'm not a fan of King. I just don't like his voice, I guess. But I can't deny that he's got it down.

For myself, I guess my approach to writing is a mixture of outlining and freewheeling. I outline first, with the understanding that it's all subject to change once I actually get started writing. Having an outline allows me to make sure I hit all the important parts I wanted to cover. It also helps me keep the time that elapses straight in my head.

However, on the second draft of my WIP I've completely changed the role of a secondary character, made her present (and way more important) from the first paragraph of the book, and set two characters much more strongly against each other, which has totally changed the theme and tone of my book. That wasn't in the outline. I still felt free to go with it.

I like to think I have the best of both worlds, ha ha.

And I'd never tell anybody that they're wrong to not outline.

NeuroFizz
06-15-2009, 07:47 PM
Come on, guys (I'm using the non-gender-limited "guys"). Once again we are getting into territory where people are talking about outlines as an either you do one or you don't, and ignoring the tremendous variation in "preparation for writing" that most of us go through, which falls between the extremes of detailed outlining and writing with absolutely no pre-planning.

For example, writing a simple phrase for each planned chapter (Ch. 1 - he does this; Ch. 2 - she does that) is hardly outlining in terms of the detailed event planning some writers use. And before anyone objects, many people, at the very least, have this kind of information thought out in their minds, they just don't write it down. There is a tremendous variation in how people prepare to write a novel, a chapter, and a scene. And even if a few words are jotted down, that hardly constitutes an outline unless we are willling to concede that anyone who thinks about a novel, chapter or scene before starting to write is also outlining. And if we have to do extensive research for a scene and write down the results of our research before starting to write does that constitute an outline? There is so much gray area between the extremes on this issue putting labels on it doesn't fuc*ing matter.

So, when someone says they'll puke if they ever outline, should we assume, then, that this person never even thinks of a single aspect of a scene before sitting down to write it? No, that would be unfair to that person. Same for someone who writes out some of their thoughts before starting to write.

Once gain, visceral comments like this make me think some people believe it is cool to write this way or write that way. None of these approaches to writing make us cool writers. What makes us cool writers is to finish our projects and to get them in the hands of readers. And there is no "better" way to do it which that can be generalized to a large group of writers--just for each individual. And that individual may use a variety of approaches depending on the story, the chapter of a story, and a particular scene. This rigidity of attitude is what bothers me. I generally don't write with an outline, but I do jot down a few ideas and play with their order. What I do is come to the keyboard ready to write, which means I think out the next scene in some detail--who will be in it, what will happen, how it will fit into the flow of the story arc, how the tone will contribute, things like that. If I get stuck in a story, I may write skeletal sequences of actions to help find the best string of scenes that get through the stuck parts, a form a outlining, I suppose. So, do I outline or not? Sometimes you could answer yes, sometimes no. But who cares. I use the most effiienct way to get the story down and keep it rolling--and it varies. And putting a label on this is a worthless bulldukey. Here is what I try to be--an efficient writer. And to do that sometimes requires different approaches to the scene-at-hand. A rigid "I won't do that under penalty of puking" would decrease my efficiency because the goal is to write a damn good story, and that is not limited by any approach to the actual writing.

scarletpeaches
06-15-2009, 07:55 PM
Saying "I'd puke if I ever had to outline," is not wrong.

Clamping down on us pukers is bigotry, pure and simple, man.

I reserve my right to puke on your outline.

Medievalist
06-15-2009, 07:56 PM
Come on, guys (I'm using the non-gender-limited "guys"). Once again we are getting into territory where people are talking about outlines as an either you do one or you don't, and ignoring the tremendous variation in "preparation for writing" that most of us go through, which falls between the extremes of detailed outlining and writing with absolutely no pre-planning.

I do not write fiction, and have no desire to write fiction, but I've worked with novelists writing fantasy and with game designers and game--tie in novels--if you know something about how mythic stories are structured and work, and know a lot about myths, you get odd jobs.

So anyway, once long ago working on a story-based piece of software, the Producer told the sekrit fantasy novelist we'd hired that she would have to not just outline, in depth, down to the paragraph level, the whole story-line, she'd have to flow chart it.

NeuroFizz
06-15-2009, 08:01 PM
Saying "I'd puke if I ever had to outline," is not wrong.

Clamping down on us pukers is bigotry, pure and simple, man.

I reserve my right to puke on your outline.
First you'll have to define "outline" and I contend that would be more puke-inducing because using me as an example may well force you to include a huge ration of organic writing in that definition. But go ahead and puke on my manuscripts because they are all that's important--what all this is about. Getting the manuscripts finished.

swvaughn
06-15-2009, 08:01 PM
Hmm. It appears I didn't post in this thread after all. I had this really long, involved, hopefully interesting comment - and I could've sworn I typed it out. Was it all in my head?

Ack. Basically what I wanted to say is that I've written 12 novels (now working on the 13th), and my process hasn't been the same for any dang two of them. It makes me want to cry sometimes. Sometimes I do something that sort of resembles a partial outline, usually after I've already started the book. Sometimes it's pantsing all the way. So far the process for Lucky Number thirteen is: write scene, bang head against wall for 24 hours, write another scene, delete previous scene, bang head against wall for 32 hours, write paragraph, delete paragraph, plan ahead, delete plans, write three chapters, bang head against wall for two weeks...

(sophomore slump. gotta love it.)

I've never done a formal outline, but can't necessarily rule out the possibility in the future - since I never write a book the same way. Argh.

I remember reading something by some author who said that he (I'm pretty sure it was a he) never learns how to write "books." He only learns how to write "this book."

That's how I roll. Unfortunately.

scarletpeaches
06-15-2009, 08:02 PM
First you'll have to define "outline" and I contend that would be more puke-inducing because using me as an example may well force you to include a huge ration of organic writing in that definition. But go ahead and puke on my manuscripts because they are all that's important--what all this is about. Getting the manuscripts finished.

I puke by the seat of my pants.

Cassiopeia
06-15-2009, 08:02 PM
I'm always outlining. In my head that is. I've tried to write it down on paper but really my first draft tends to be an outline. I do have a time-line of sorts. So I'm somewhere in between outlining and not outlining.

NeuroFizz
06-15-2009, 08:04 PM
I puke by the seat of my pants.
Don't know if that's called puking, then. And let the reading of my manuscripts generate that reaction, not the method used to write the stories.

bettielee
06-15-2009, 08:06 PM
Why did anybody let this guy stoke up 7 pages worth of posts, not to mention all the arguing? His posts seem like nothing but attempts to get traffic to his site, not to mention he talks down to us.

**Bettielee: flouncing out**

scarletpeaches
06-15-2009, 08:06 PM
I should probably stop puking on Fizzy's manuscripts and get on with writing my own.

swvaughn
06-15-2009, 08:08 PM
Why did anybody let this guy stoke up 7 pages worth of posts, not to mention all the arguing? His posts seem like nothing but attempts to get traffic to his site, not to mention he talks down to us.

**Bettielee: flouncing out**

We're writers! We have words, and we wanna use them! Even if it's in a circular discussion we've had a zillion times before, started by an OP that was - er, a little misguided.

Maybe one of us will finally convince the rest of us that there is Only One Way, and we shall all become Filthy Rich Mega-Besterest-Selling Authors!

Or not.

bettielee
06-15-2009, 08:11 PM
Yes... and this is one of those things that will never be "resolved" - as in, there is no one right way.

Why does anyone care if I outline? I write by myself, alone, in a very small room. What I do has no effect or affect on anyone else, why argue about it? And I could lie out my arse and swear I am a genius and it all comes forth like the water from the rock, or that I outline to within a hair's shadow. You wouldn't know and it wouldn't matter, whether I publish and earn a zillion dollars, publish and make a fool of myself, doing readings only for the bookstore staff, or set the thing on fire.

Libbie
06-15-2009, 08:12 PM
SP pukes in the general direction of your outline.

Okay, if you really want the truth about how I prepare for writing my historical novels, I actually write all over other books. I take notes directly in the margins of books I use for research. It's awful, I know.

You should see my collection of Houdini books. Some of them are out of print. I'm still shocked when I open them and see my handwriting all over the place. But it's so damn handy! I have my reference material and my notes right there in one easy-to-use package.

NeuroFizz
06-15-2009, 08:14 PM
Personally, I think the discussion that has fallen from that original post has been interesting and useful. I think most of us have moved past the original post and are now concentrating on a good, solid discussion of methods of preparation for writing, with the acknowledged idea of "do what works best" established and sub-areas of what outlining really is and how and when it is valuable, based on personal experiences, being expressed and discussed.

And I wish the OP would return. He has good writing experience. He has good ideas that obviously work for him. If he comes back, I suspect he will be a valuable asset to AW. And we don't have to always agree with someone to have that person be valuable around here since learning through discussion, and then using ideas from that discussion to experiment and discover what works best for us, is what can drive us to be better writers.

CaroGirl
06-15-2009, 08:15 PM
How do you spell that sound that you make when you stick your tongue between your lips and blow air and spit out while your tongue vibrates? Like this: ppphhhhtttthhhh? Just imagine all the spit flying out. That's my actual (and wildly immature) answer to the OP regarding this issue.

CaroGirl
06-15-2009, 08:16 PM
Personally, I think the discussion that has fallen from that original post has been interesting and useful. I think most of us have moved past the original post and are now concentrating on a good, solid discussion of methods of preparation for writing, with the acknowledged idea of "do what works best" established and sub-areas of what outlining really is and how and when it is valuable, based on personal experiences, being expressed and discussed.

And I wish the OP would return. He has good writing experience. He has good ideas that obviously work for him. If he comes back, I suspect he will be a valuable asset to AW. And we don't have to always agree with someone to have that person be valuable around here since learning through discussion, and then using ideas from that discussion to experiment and discover what works best for us, is what can drive us to be better writers.
Oh sure, talk about all the value in the discussion right when I'm posting a huge wet raspberry. Make me look like a dork, why dontcha?

NeuroFizz
06-15-2009, 08:19 PM
Oh sure, talk about all the value in the discussion right when I'm posting a huge wet raspberry. Make me look like a dork, why dontcha?
Hey, when you go from puking to blowing raspberries, you cross the line, Caro. Blowing raspberries definitely takes all creativity out of the approach, while puking comes in a variety of colors and textures, projectile to dribbling. And one never has to hold a friend's hair back when they are blowing raspberries, so it's strictly a solitary activity.

scarletpeaches
06-15-2009, 08:22 PM
And of course, pukers have our routines. Personally, I wait until I have a migraine then tie my hair back (outlining it with a scrunchie) then I do the two-finger tickle down the back of my throat.

Usually down the toilet-bowl, not on a manuscript. The stomach-acid would burn a hole in my keyboard, given that my manuscript is on my laptop.

Adam
06-15-2009, 08:24 PM
And of course, pukers have our routines. Personally, I wait until I have a migraine then tie my hair back (outlining it with a scrunchie) then I do the two-finger tickle down the back of my throat.

Usually down the toilet-bowl, not on a manuscript. The stomach-acid would burn a hole in my keyboard, given that my manuscript is on my laptop.

I do so enjoy your posts. ;)

scarletpeaches
06-15-2009, 08:25 PM
I'm so ladylike, even as I barf.

Adam
06-15-2009, 08:27 PM
I'm so ladylike, even as I barf.

Totes. :D

Medievalist
06-15-2009, 08:30 PM
Why did anybody let this guy stoke up 7 pages worth of posts, not to mention all the arguing? His posts seem like nothing but attempts to get traffic to his site, not to mention he talks down to us.

**Bettielee: flouncing out**

But you don't understand -- he has a degree. And he's written several legitimate books.

I think, frankly, he didn't realize the scope of AW or the fact that there are a fair number of very much actively publishing writers, editors, agents, and similar folk here.

And I think he's a bit naive about online stuff--and yeah, was mostly here to promote his site.

MacAllister
06-15-2009, 08:30 PM
I suspect that if I crunched the numbers, more AWRoundtable posts end up in TIO than do Politics posts, by a double-digit percentage.

Heh.

scarletpeaches
06-15-2009, 08:34 PM
God damn it, Mac, are you oppressing us again?

bettielee
06-15-2009, 08:34 PM
**bettielee flounces back in, quickly


But you don't understand -- he has a degree. And he's written several legitimate books.

And I think he's a bit naive about online stuff--and yeah, was mostly here to promote his site.

Medi thinks part of me was right.

neener neener neener....

**flounces back out, pretends she was never here to begin with**

skelly
06-16-2009, 03:22 AM
There are so many different ways to outline a novel that it makes this whole argument laughable. Not only different ways, but different degrees of outlining. One writer might make an outline that's so brief and loose it's more like a guideline than an outline, while another might write so detailed an outline, the writing itself becomes merely filling in the blanks. It seems a matter of whether the writer spends her time mostly at the front or the back end of the writing process.

The preachy stance of "One Must Outline to be Successful" as a novelist sounds like bollocks to me.
That is SO true. Not only do I not outline, I don't even actually write the books. I just think them onto the hard drive of my computer while I'm playing video games.

:)

thethinker42
06-16-2009, 04:01 AM
God damn it, Mac, are you oppressing us again?

You NEED some oppression once in a while, SP. Better Mac than me...I still haven't gotten the stitches out from last time.

motormind
07-15-2009, 04:53 PM
I outline everything thoroughly. Then I just put the outline in a drawer and just start writing. The end result usually resembles the outline quite a bit, especially the beginning and ending.