For the better part of the last 10-15 years, rarely anything I’ve written has needed or required an outline.
As a sports writer, it’s a simple process for me – watch a game, talk to coaches and players afterwards, describe the game and sprinkle quotes in the story, bam. Done.
Not that easy when writing a novel and that’s been my biggest lessons in my three years of Indie Writing – pantsing, the act of writing without an outline, feels like a pure process, but as I sit here with a true outline for a potential work in progress, I can feel the difference and I haven’t even started a rough draft yet.
Each of my first 4 self-published works were products of pantsing and I’ll be able to get away with it for my 5th novel (coming later this year) because it’s a sequel for Brothers Lunchin’ – the story of the Four Amigos just rolls on. But going forward, I’ll probably be outlining because structure is not always a bad thing, no matter how much I resist.
I decided last night that I was going to go forward with my plans to keep pantsin’ the Brothers Lunchin’ sequel, but my Christmas season erotica/romance work was definitely going to require some outlining.
A while back, I bookmarked a column by Robbie Blair over at LitReactor.com, highlighting 8 ways to outline a novel and after digging through all of my other bookmarks, I was able to find it.
Then I turned on one of my favorite writing songs, “Moon Over Carolina” by Najee and Gary Taylor and I got started by using a little bit from the first three way listed – The Expanding Snowflake, Pure Summary and the Skeletal Outline, which of course brought back high school and college memories.
It was exciting to see the way the outline and the ideas came together because it forced me to think about everything – the plot, the names and personalities of the characters, the setting – EVERYTHING. So when I do start writing it later this year (or maybe tomorrow, who knows? Moods change), I have a good outline/template to work with and that will probably make the story flow better.
Moral of the story? Don’t be afraid of a little structure. Then you won’t look like a fool with your pants(ing) on the ground. Remember that?