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Do you do plot outlines?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Zander Willmore, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. Zander Willmore

    Zander Willmore Minstrel

    When you write a story do you just let it come to you as you write or do you sit down and plot it out first? I like to do chapter outlines for my novels and scene outlines for my short stories. This gives me a great map to follow as I write. Sometimes I am able to come up with the outlines before I start writing other times I have to write a chapter or scene or two before I know where the story will go.

    So how do you do it? What works best for you.
  2. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

    If I have a concrete idea I ill just start writing and do my planning in my head. But often my idea is very vague and there are many gaps. Some people find those gaps fill themselves as they write. But I find actual writing hard and I'm currently trying to get over being a perfectionist about writing. It's become an anxiety to me so much so that I found myself avoiding writing and staying in the planning area because everything was ironed out perfectly. I think I as just avoiding so I did consider trying without a plan but when an idea is new and vague it can be hard - I find just letting it sit for a week or so while I think about it helps.

    Maybe I'll try doing chapter plans as I write.
    Yora likes this.
  3. Yora

    Yora Maester

    I want stories to build up to a conclusion and have some kind of point to them. I think this only can be done if you construct them as an argument for or against something that the story revolves around. If you don't outline a story, any conclusion or meaning that arrives at the end is purely coincidental.
  4. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

    My conclusions and meanings are always coincidental. I do not like to work with a concept or 'idea' in mind, but prefer for it to arise from the story, built from my words. I discover it.

    But I do outline some. Definitely not to the scene level nor even the chapter, usually. My outline is more likely to read like a synopsis, with all the things I want in more or less the right order. And it will definitely change, be revised as I go along.
  5. oenanthe

    oenanthe Minstrel

    if you understand the shape and structure of the story you're telling and are comfortable enough with that knowledge to be able to begin with some characters, a couple of conflicts, and a thematic question, you can write a novel without an outline, in my experience.

    My own journey was to just discover write a story, that was charming but not very cohesive, then to spend some time with various levels of outlining to learn the structure, and then letting that go to go back to the joy of discovery writing backed up by more solid knowledge. Now I will do a discovery story, or an outlined story, or some combination of both.

    Outlining's a valuable tool, and it teaches you a lot about how stories work. but it's not mandatory.
  6. Adela

    Adela Scribe

    No outlining here. I'll write to a point I want to get to in a scene and then decide where I want to go next. It's surprising where the story (and often well-established characters) can take you. There have often been plot twists or things I didn't expect come out of these experiences.

    I might jot down a line of dialogue or a definite scenario I want in my novel and there's always a pre-planned ending in mind from the beginning, otherwise, I'd be lost.
  7. Seira

    Seira Minstrel

    I've tried being a punster and I ended up in a complete muddle and totally ran out of steam to the point I was never able to return to that idea. This kept happening because as a teenager I didn't know you could make a plan or how to.
    I read books on planning and figured out a system that worked for me. Then ended up planning and never getting any writing don, because I'd spend so long figuring out the in's and out's that by the time the story was ready I was sick of the sight of it! Once I get to that point I find it very hard to ever connect with that story again. I really envy people who can dodge back and forth but I struggle with that.

    No neither plotter or panstering has worked for me so far, but I'm still trying to find my way. Maybe it's because neither really exist because we are both really. Even planners do some panstering and vice versa.
  8. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    I’m a tweener, or what I call Waypoint Writer. I know the end and certain set pieces and explore between. It’s kind of like saying I’m going to drive to Dallas, and along the way I’m going to hit KC and OKC for sure, but I’ve no idea what roads I’ll take or when I’ll get there. And if I see a sign that says “Toledo 20 miles” I might consider I’m off track, heh heh.
  9. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    We plot our outlines with more precision to detail than some moon landings. It's a bit nuts, but for me it equals faster writing speed and a greater ability to stick to the plot and not lose subplots.

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