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Outline vs Discovery?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Mindfire, Apr 3, 2013.

What's your style?

  1. Outline/Plotter

  2. Neutral/Balanced

  3. Discovery/Pantser

  1. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    I've finished the story's first draft, but it ended up defying the written outline in favor of a plot I thought up in my head.

    I wonder whether certain story ideas (or "idea seeds") are more conducive to pantsing or planning than others. I would think that if you start off with a mental summary of the whole plot (e.g. characters go on quest for X), you need to plan the whole thing out whereas discovery writing is easier if you start off only with a few scenes in mind.
  2. I've always struggled with writing what works vs what I want to see happen.

    Generally I don't write anything more than a vague outline and let the words flow and the story, to some degree, write itself. Recently, I've been trying to outline more. This works on some stories better than others.

    Sometimes what I want to happen doesn't work well with what I've written; when I force the ending I want it usually turns out looking rather, well, forced. I often find myself completely restructuring a story to try and fix it to the way I initially imagined. However, every once in a while, I'll come up with a different plot as I write that fits better. The few times I have finished a story this way, I've been satisfied the outcome but maybe have not truly happy with it.
  3. HabeasCorpus

    HabeasCorpus Minstrel

    So I know this is a touch of thread necromancy, but as I was thinking about this tonight, I thought I'd toss up a contribution. For me, I generally start with a vague idea or feeling of something I want to write about. I can related to Neb's initial post about wanting to convey a theme/message/meaning. Often it's not a simple idea, but one that is nuanced. Not only is it nuanced, the presentation needs to be nuanced as well to get the full meaning - at least, that's how it feels. To do that, I feel like I need to know where my characters are, who and what they interact with, how that will affect them and their actions later on in the story.

    At the end of the day, what all this means is that there is simply too much for me to keep straight in my head. I know that if I were to write and discover the story that wanted to come out of me, I would be a huge cathartic mess that no amount of editing could hopefully recover. In light of that, I almost need to see, feel, touch and hold the elements of the story so I can put them together where I want them to be.

    One of the best parts of this for me is the freedom it affords. Knowing that a significant portion of the details that are important to me are accounted for, I can allow myself to be free to write and not be afraid I've missed something or misrepresented an idea. Not only is it freeing to me, but it's one of the most exciting parts of the process. For me though, the work on the front end has to get done before that's possible.
  4. Sandor

    Sandor Dreamer

    Hi, guys!

    I'm basically a "new" writer, I talked a bit about my work last year here in the boards, then I got stuck. And the reason why I got the block was...extreme outlining-syndrome. :)

    I've always written stuff, short tells or novel projects, but never to be published, just for curiosity.
    Now I'm seriously in the processo of creating a "serious" (let's see... ;) ) saga and, after a couple of years spent researching and plotting, I broke the block...And that's because I went back to "discovery" writing.

    The main reason I quit believing in my project was the fact that I really got tired to follow up a strict outline: I felt restrained.
    Now that I pulled out all my notes and re-formed the basic ideas of the novels (I've also read a lot to get some inspiration), I restarted writing with ease. I've a plot, lots of characters, genealogies to play with, main history events and a goal...What's in the middle is there, somewhere, waiting for discovery. ;)

    I don't know if that's the best way to handle things down...But as a long-time musician and addicted rpg's DM, I'm pretty sure that improvisation is "an art in the art" and maybe that's my only way to go.

    Cheers. ;)
  5. KRHolbrook

    KRHolbrook Scribe

    I've tried creating an outline for my book. It contained character biographies, plot, chapter information and everything. And then as I started writing everything completely derailed from the outline I'd created. After that, I figured outlines just weren't for me, but provided a good base. Now I kind of make things happen in my mind and just write the story and see where it goes. Short stories and flash fiction are easier for me than writing a novel. I have to think about a lot of different things when it comes to my novel and I often get headaches from it. Bah. :(
  6. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Long gone are the days of sitting in front of the computer for hours, going back fixing things, producing a page an hour. I don't outline per say, but I have a few pre-writing tricks up my sleeve I learned from authors that I'm in love with now. I like a good fast-write for discovery, but my WIP has come along smoothly because I've gotten more organized. I think the brainstorming and plotting before writing has helped my creativity. Its a lot funner and easier this way for me. I haven't even started writing my current project because I'm still plotting it out and I'm glad to be approaching it this way.

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