The Ever-Dreaded Outline

The Ever-Dreaded Outline.

This is the best bit of writing I’ve read regarding the pros of outlining


9 thoughts on “The Ever-Dreaded Outline

  1. Hmm. He makes some good points. And yet. . .

    For me, when working with novel-length stories (as opposed to my Ninja Librarian, which is really a collection of short stories), I find I do best by making my outline after writing the first draft–it becomes a combination of a more-organized view of what I have, and an assessment of what is still needed. Though I suspect there’s a fair outline in my head while I’m writing, every time I’ve tried to write (fiction) from a written outline, I’ve failed.

    I don’t follow recipes well, either 😀

    So how about you, Gus? DO you outline?

  2. I often wrote from the seat of my pants, hence the “pantser” label. But I’ve been sticking to an outline lately, only because it helps me see the paths the story can take, and chose the right path. I’m not particularly fond of outlining, since it goes against my just-wing-it philosophy, but it’s been good for me to do things like write a backstory and figure out what internal and external conflicts will come into play, before I start hammering out the first or second draft.

  3. I know before I start that getting a reply form me will seem weird but I have been following your blog for weeks now and it is great. Stranger still for me to say that I never do outlines. I can’t write with a plan. I need to find out what is happening and what has happened as I write them down. I guess I agree with whoever it was that said that he never knew what he thought about things until he had read what he had written on them , (apologies for the awful tense use there). I need to drift along on the surface of a story’s sea only discovering where I need to go under after I have been there. I’m sort of saying that if I don’t have to go back to something I’ll never get around to it in any real sense at all. I’d rather need to repair something than never subject it to use.

  4. I already tried to reply but it never got posted as I had not logged in but I have been following your blog for a while now. For my part I never do an outline. I need to find out what is happening or has happened in a story as I am writing. I need to drift aimlessly on the surface of a story’s sea and only figure out where I need to put my head under and go deeper after I have gone past. I would rather stumble past a good thing and go back later rather than never put one foot in front of the other and start on my unsteady way. I guess I agree with whoever it was that said he never knew what his views on any particular subject where until he read what he had written on that subject. Good job, Gus! Keep it up…you are being judged…you know secretly and without authority…but judged nonetheless.

  5. Hey, Mark–I can outline the hell out of a story. It’s just that when I start writing, it’s apt to take a 90-degree turn at the first intersection and end up in Tahoe instead of LA. But I’m sure there’s some value in the outlining. At least it makes me think I’m writing.

    • I guess my problem is that I procrastinate too much as it is and the outline would either not be finished or would just become the thing that was taking up all the time as I tried to get it just right while avoiding actually writing or, you know, cleaning the house, organising the home library which is unfortunately also my bedroom which has a giant tv…hooked up to a computer…connected to a games system and the internet…well you get the point. Too many distractions.

      • Well, my comment about it making me think I am writing is kind of my way I’d saying it can be something that takes the place of actual writing. Except later when I use it as a revision tool. At that stage anything that is remotely related to the work of writing is a triumph.

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