I have a confession to make. When I wrote my last book…I used an outline.
Wait, don’t make me turn in my pantser badge! Which sounds like it means something way more inappropriate than I’m intending!
See, four books ago, I only wrote by getting ideas and typing them out (known in the vernacular as “by the seat of one’s pants”). I certainly saw the benefits of outlining. In fact, I got in the habit of typing them up after I finished with the book, if only to be able to look at the story from a wider perspective. For the most part, I nodded along when others spoke of the joys of outlining, for some reason feeling proud of myself for not using one. Yeah, it’s kind of weird.
Then COLLAPSE came along, and I blame it for this abundance of outlining. My idea for the story was that it took place over a year—each chapter is a different day along the timeline. In order to execute it without tripping over continuity, I needed to (shudder) outline what happened, on what day, and make sure things were happening at an appropriate pace. It’s not my fault. I needed the outline.
My next book was REMEMBER, and I told myself I wanted to outline it because I didn’t have a clear idea for the ending and besides, it would be easier to get it out of the way ahead of time (seriously, that’s what I told myself). Same thing for MALICE, my current WIP. I just want to know the ending.
Am I an outliner now? No, but that’s only because I don’t like to label myself (it restricts my ability to completely change my mind about something in the middle of doing it). I’ve just…realized that people were right. It does help to have it all out there. Not like it completely solves all writing problems. I still throw in new ideas as they come to me, and some of the ideas that I wrote in because they were in the outline didn’t pan out the way I want them to and will probably be cut when I’m finished with draft 1. So while I like having an idea of what I’m supposed to be writing, sometimes it kind of gets in the way, too. There are goods and bads to outlining…and I’ll probably be doing it for my next book.
Seriously, it hooks you.
Any thoughts about outlining? Have you ever radically changed your mind about something?