Friday, April 27, 2012

Outlines, Plotting, or Seat of Your Pants

Writers exist in two main camps: Those who outline and those who don’t. There’s value in each, but I think the majority do at least set out to follow some sort of plot structure. Letting the story flow on its own path can lead to getting lost mid-way through in my opinion.

I work with detailed outlining, tracking the passage of time and writing a paragraph - at least - for each chapter. Before that, I create personality sheets for each character so I can identify them by appearance, their backgrounds, temperament, etc. These are pasted on the walls around my computer, at least until I know them so well, they’re like family.

That doesn’t mean outlines can’t change, but working with a strong understructure keeps me better on track and looking forward to the ending. That’s why it’s also good to know the characters before I get to writing. That way, they’re less likely to do or say something that’s out of character.

The path to the end can at times be frustrating if a new twist or turn pops up. That’s bound to happen, and it’s part of the fun.

Plotting or not, reaching the last chapter is exhilarating and sad. I always hate saying goodbye.


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