Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why I don't outline...

I don't outline.

I can already hear some other writers cringing. What do you mean you do not outline your stories? I don't. I have found, that I write better without an outline. I have tried outlining in the past, but then it felt like I was writing a term paper. It wasn't fun. Writing is hard work, but it should be fun too.

Does this mean you don't work out a plot?
No, but when I come up with the idea. I come up with the one to sentence idea first, then expand on it. This is how.

The idea I get one morning drinking tea is; Fluffy Bunny saves the Day, by taking out the Bad Hamsters. (Silly idea, but bare with me)

Immediately, I think, who is Fluffy Bunny? I let my imagination work overtime and come up with it's a woman who is the mascot for her college team. The mascot happens to be a large rabbit. I jot that down.

Who are the Bad Hamsters? For some reason a gang of bored teenagers comes to mind. They brag on the internet about their 'pranks' by using the name Bad Hamsters. That note goes down too.

Now I come up with 2 to 6 major plot points. Things i would like to make sure get into the story. In this case;
  1. Fluffy Bunny just happened to be at the right place at the right time, due to a daily annoyance.
  2. Her younger brother is a member of the Bad Hamsters.
  3. Fluffy Bunny's boyfriend is the target of a new prank.
  4. The leader of the Bad Hamsters is pushing the kids to become more criminal.
That's good enough for now.

Taking those notes I come up with the younger brother, her boyfriend, and the ring leader. Then the setting, which would have to be a college town. I try not to come up with too much information, unless I need it for the story.

That is the extent of my planning of the novel. I might have an ending, or I might not, but as long as I take the characters from point A to point B, and may a few side trips along the way. It works for me.

The only time I put more work into my stories, is if I am writing something I am unfamiliar with. Such as if Fluffy Bunny's boyfriend worked at an investment firm. I would have to read up on what he would be doing there, and get a good enough grasp on the workings to make it look like I know what I am writing about.

For me, a good story has to be organic. That is why the plot is so vague when I start to write. Some stories have come out of a scene that would pop in my head. I would write it down to use later, and suddenly it's expanded to a full story. If I would have stopped and tried to outline; I would have lost that spark that hit me in the first place.

BTW if you like this story idea, run with it, but send me a copy and credit me somewhere.

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. I don't outline either! Well, people say that for people like me the first draft IS the outline because we often go back and do major revisions.

    Apparently, this is how Nora Roberts and many other successful authors write.

  2. Just more proof that everyone's writing process is different :) For me, outlining is a lot of fun, and makes writing much easier. When I don't outline, I get stuck and end up hating the story because I can't figure out where to take it. Big-picture, plot-level ideas flow better for me when I'm outlining than when I'm writing. But I've run into a lot of people like you, who are exactly the opposite. This is why I distrust a lot of writing advice, because it's such an individual process.

  3. Good point about the writing advice. I read somewhere a writer just rewrote her entire story, instead of editing it. I would go nuts if I did that.