Outlining, or the Lack Thereof

Friday, January 8, 2010

After spending time on Absolute Write*, I've discovered that writers fall into 2 categories: Those who outline and those who don't. And the 2 don't always get along when the subject of outlining comes up. Tempers flare, middle ground disappears, accusations of little intelligence fly, mod-sticks come out... no one's happy.

For myself, I've always been in the "no outline" category. I like an organic approach to writing that lets the story happen as it happens. I might sketch out a summary/synopsis in advance, but beyond that, I don't like outlines. (I tend to think of them more rigid than they actually are.) However, yesterday, I located a Post-It pad that was apparently made for The Jolly Green Giant. (Technically it's made for those presentation easels, but come on... it's a sticky note pad. They should not be that big.)

I tacked the thing to my wall and started writing out notes on it about the scenes I'd already figured out. Suddenly, other things started filling in the gaps. The plot laid itself out in a somewhat structured path from beginning to end.

Gah... I was outlining!!!

About a month ago, I downloaded a trial of a program called Liquid Story Binder which lets you save each part of a book as a separate document. One of the functions is an outline builder. I plugged in the parts I'd put down on the Post-It and more plot points popped up. Not sure if I'll become a regular outliner, but for at least yesterday it worked pretty well.

* Absolute Write is an awesome resource for writers. One I'll promptly link to once (and if) I ever figure out how to make a link thingy in my side bar. If you have writing questions or need help hashing out a plot, that's the place to go. It's also got great information about specific agents and publishers to help you figure out which ones are good fits and which ones aren't quite so legit.

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