How often do you create an outline before writing?

Discussion in 'Fiction Writing' started by all-mad-here, Jul 27, 2018.

  1. all-mad-here

    all-mad-here New Member

    It's one of those things that I feel like I "should" do whenever I have a new idea...put it down on paper, with details about the characters, dates, environment, plot, etc.

    But what actually happens is that I have an idea, open a fresh Word document, and start typing furiously until I have a couple of pages containing that original idea. And then I kind of look blankly at the screen for a little while and think, "Where do I go from here? What happens next?" So I'll grab a pen and start jotting down ideas in an outline...and that's where the writer's block tends to hit. Then I'm discouraged and close the document and promise myself to come back to it later. And that's the true story of how I have like two dozen beginnings of books saved on my laptop.

    I'm curious to know how others go about it. Do you sit down and outline your idea first, or just start writing and worry about the details later? Which method is more effective for you? And if you outline, just how much detail do you hash out before starting to write?
  2. MariaPZ

    MariaPZ New Member

    I have the same problem: I have an idea (usually the beginning and end of the story), and I write an outline. Then, as the days pass, I develop that outline, with characters, the setting, the mood, the overreaching theme of the story, etc. Then I just keep on doing that, maybe write down a couple lines of dialogue that I think would look cool. Eventually I almost have a complete outline but for some reason I just can't write the actual thing. Then, after a month of obsessing over the idea, I get another one and the cycle repeats, because I guess I'm more of an ideas guy than a writer.

    What I personally do is to pick up a fiction book that has something to do with the story I'm planning. For example, it may have the same setting, or the same type of character, etc. Then, as I read, I instinctively think of what one of my characters would do in the book's situation, and I feel inspired to write.
  3. robertkennedy

    robertkennedy New Member

    Writing an outline for a novel or a screenplay is essential in my opinion. A good plan can save a lot of headaches. If you are a 'pantser' and decide to start writing without a plan, you run the risk of getting stuck in the middle with now way out for your story. A good solid plan can keep you on track and help you stay focused when you get into the weeds. It also helps you keep the pacing a book just right, and within a reasonable word count.
  4. MOkada

    MOkada New Member

    Sometimes I enjoy the outlining more than the writing. I outline and become more excited about the constructs of characters and plot points and conflict that when I sit down to write I have built a construction too strict for me to feel the freedom that fuels my writing. One definitely should know what happens throughout the story and plan the major twists and turns, but I feel that when you understand your characters, any dialogue or interaction between them and their environment and others starts to feel right. For some reason, I have a hard time mapping out the beginning as you want it to be impactful and revealing of only the right, appropriate pieces of information, but I have no problem ending. I usually map out the ending before the middle, and then all I have to do is focus on how to get to that point. Sometimes when planning a story, I'll have an idea in church, and if you have an outline, you can write that in.

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