To Outline or Not To Outline

That is the big question…do you or don’t you outline. I started my first novel without an outline. Flying by the seat of my pants, was my idea of being creative. I thought an outline would box my creativity in, I refused to stifle myself with guidelines. That was a big mistake. Constantly wondering in the dark and lost, no idea where the story was going or how it was going to get there. I became frustrated and started to think it was my writing that was lacking but it was not the writing it was my method. I wanted to sit at my computer and hope for the best with no planning. I was writing blindly. This caused me to want to quit many times. Talking to a friend about my frustrations, she asked me where my book was going and maybe she could help me. My answer was I have no clue. In a years time I had about thirteen chapters and my story had changed a millions times. Every time it changed, I went back to the beginning and rewrote the previous chapters. It was an endless cycle; I became frustrated with the story. It wasn’t really the story but the fact that I had no bones to my story and you need the bones of the story to move it forward. You can’t just fly along on a wish and a pray.

Currently I have put that story on the back burner and started a new one. I outlined the whole thing and amazingly have written seven chapters on two weeks. The outline keeps me grounded. Knowing what should be in each chapter and where the story is going has taken all the stress out of writing. I know what needs to be in each chapter and when those key points are there, the chapter is done. There is no guessing anymore and my confidence is back. I will eventually go back to my pervious story and finish it but I will most definitely outline it and think it though before I start on it again. The outline actually gave me more freedom in my writing and didn’t box me in as I had thought it would. I still veer from the out line at times but I also know what ever I add will progress the story. I think of it like a map, if you don’t have a map how do you get from point A to point B? Never again will I try to write a story without one. The outline is an amazing tool that a writer should never take for granted.

Do you use an outline or are you a panster? If your a panster do you find yourself frustrated a lot? I would love to hear about your methods and ideas on making the writing process easier.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Tabitha Blake


4 responses to “To Outline or Not To Outline

  1. Awesome blog post, Tabitha

    An outline (map) can keep our story on track so we don’t get lost. I’ve learned that its okay to follow a detour sometimes as long as the plot progresses with each step.

    • Tabitha Blake

      Glad you enjoyed it. I have always learned the hard way. Just ask my mom. LOL I learn how not to something then figure out the right way later. Or should I say the easier way to accomplish my goals. Doesn’t help that I am extremely hard headed. But heck that may come in handy later in the publishing process because I refuse to give up.
      Tabitha Blake

  2. Great post, Tabitha! I never get tired of this topic, or hearing how other writers address the outlining issue.

    I use an outline, with the major turning points mapped out – but how I get to each one is left open so that as my characters develop, I can set them free to assert their personalities. If I hem them in too much with a strict, scene-by-scene outline, I get frustrated – and so do my characters! I often have to modify the outline as I go, because the book develops in a way that surprises me. For me, that’s the fun part of writing.

    I have a friend who is a total “pantser.” She just sits down and startes a story with almost no planning – and her stories are fabulous! She’s just a natural storyteller, but I think very few people can do that.

    • Tabitha Blake

      Yeah it all depends on the writer I think. I stick with the outline for the major scenes that need to be in that particular chapter but also I am flexible. The story changes and grow into more than what is on the outline. The outline is just the backbone of the story. Then you have to expand on it. The outline is your map and then you have to add the color. Think how blah a map would be in black and white.

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