How Am I Now Finding Out About Outlining Stories Before Writing Them?

Trying To Write A Book

Since the blog post finally getting the pencil on paper I started to work on an idea I had for a book. Don’t ask for a title because I haven’t decided on one yet. Though I hinted at a synopsis in a couple of blog posts.

At first, the book already seemed stellar. I had an idea of what I wanted and how I wanted it. I even had an idea for a scene. But got stuck as I started. I wasn’t sure how to lead up to the points and scenes I imagined. Some of the scenes were for the middle and end of the plot.

Already having ideas for scenes I thought I would write my book scene by scene. So starting off with the first scene, I eventually thought of how it could be. And then I got stuck writing different versions for the scene because I did not know which character should be in or lead the first scene. I wasn’t sure if it should be the main character or one of the others. Whoever I started the scene with should tell the story. But in what point of view should the story be told?

So as you can probably tell, I did not get very far. I figured writing a story would just consist of me having to get over my initial writer’s block, determine how to start, and then just start writing. But it was not the case for me. Either way, this is part of the journey. Figuring out my writing process includes figuring out just how I complete a book. So yes, getting over that initial writer’s block to then figure out how I want to start off the story. And now outlining.

How Far Did I Get?

Clearly, I didn’t have my story totally figured out. For the book, I tried to use a scene-by-scene method to write it. And have yet to get past 2 pages. Fo this one story my methods to move the story along hasn’t worked out all that well.

Although I did try the just write approach (similar to freewriting) with another piece. I didn’t think too much about the plot or the characters. Built from a writing prompt I did in a creative writing class, I am taking this story word-by-word as I go along.

I was successful with moving this story along past a couple of pages. Except I just started the story over. Deleting most of it, saving only a paragraph or two.

For most of the stories I am writing at the moment, I try to make sure I have the basic parts of the story figured out. Like a really basic plot, themes, messages, symbols, etc. They do help me envision and settle on what and how I want my story to be. I have an example of this simple story planning for you to download in the resources menu. Take your shortcut here. But how do I actually get the book done and write past a few pages?

How Does A Book Actually Get Finished?

Books get finished. But not all are completed the same way. Some people like Stephen King, just write. Others need an outline or some organizational foundation to write their masterpieces. Since finding out about outlining I’ve learned that there is quite a debate on which method is best. It is definitely a topic of strong opinions. Some people believe that outlining is the way to go. And others believe that a “just write” approach is the only way for writers (especially fiction writers) to write (cough cough Stephen King)

Some people also think as I do that none of these methods are superior to each other. And that choosing what works best for you and your writing process is superior to trying to stay loyal to a category. Besides all writers on either sides are aiming to finish quality work.

After being inspired to write a story, writers write their stories. The next step each writer takes is different. But most likely the next step for writers has to do with getting the story written. There are about 3 main groups or categories that describe the way writers can do this.

Plotter vs Panster vs Mixed

To Be Or Not To Be A Panster or Plotter: Ways Writer’s and Author’s Ensure That Their Books and Works Get Done

Plotter

A writer who is a plotter plans out their book, story, or works. I’ve mostly heard of plotters outlining, but unique planning and organizing can happen too. J.K Rowling is not only a famous author but also a famous plotter. This you have no doubt already heard of. But she is a great example of a writer/author with great success as a plotter. And honestly plotting sounds like a really good friend of authors and writers with intricate plots and long book series.

Many (mostly pansters) have said that plotting takes away from the creativity of writing. Though I can’t help but understand how planning can prevent repeated, or irrelevant scenes/happenings from throwing out a whole story (particularly a fiction one).

Plotting and planning can take days or weeks for some writers and authors. Could that make writing the book quicker or longer, more concrete or suffocating? I don’t know. Each writer or author’s experience is different. If you’re a plotter, is it your secret sauce, perfect process, or a useless tool to supplement your lack of imagination?

That last one was a very dramatic statement, but for some planning and outlining can work wonders and help them make all story ideas relevant and fitting. For others it can block their creativity, hide, or limit it.

Panster

Pansters seem to need very little to start their stories. Pansters literally just write. After having a general idea or a simple plot and or necessary information for their stories pansters let their fingers do the talking and just write whatever they feel or see is best for their stories. One of the most famous pansters is Stephen King who wrote in his book On Writing

Outlines are the last resource of bad fiction writers who wish to God they were writing masters’ theses.”

Stephen King

Pansters are in some ways seen as disorganized and driven by feelings rather than organized and strategic about their works. They are in some eyes (cough cough Stephen King’s) also seen as the ultimate epitome of writers. To others, they may seem childlike or even frivolous.

But for you being a panster may mean that you finish your stories the way you want without wasting a second draining your ideas with extensive planning. Or maybe being a panster can be a way to avoid tackling some of the most important story elements. Or a very long way to get around figuring out to what write.

Though writing like a panster does exercise your storytelling and an extemporaneous imagination. Similar to the way that actors exercise their skills with improv. Pansters can be quick on their feet and able to tackle everything as the story moves along.

Not every perfect masterpiece is planned or processed meticulously.

Mixed

As the name suggests authors or writers who are in this mixed category, have a mixed approach to finishing their stories. Combining methods used by plotters and pansters. They can outline minimally and then use that outline to write their book (freewriting style). They can also just write out all the things, parts or scenes they come up with and then organize it like a puzzle.

Which Method Is Better

Quite frankly I can’t say which method is better. That is for you to decide for yourself. I don’t think I want to enter the debate or passionate topic of which method ensures a more successful book or exactly what it means to be a panster or plotter; YOU say and explore which method works best for you. Maybe for you plotting brings out the best ideas. Or you’re a natural-born panster.

My Current Methods

For me, finding out which method or a mix of methods work best for me will help me finish my books and pieces. For the ones I am working on now and will write in the future. I’ve used different methods for different works and can see the benefits of both. But making sure I know how I am going to complete my book and which methods actually work, will help me actually finish one. As I rotate my works I currently just take writing my books day by day. And that’s good but I want to move past a couple of pages and complete a book.

I think what I do now could be considered panstering. And please if panstering is not already a word don’t pester me for it. I usually establish the very main elements of my story and then just write. Which elements you can find and download from the printables page. I don’t think I’ll abandon this step because this alone helps me know what kind of story I am writing and in which directions I can or can not go. It also helps me imagine ways I can implement these elements with ideas and scenes.

But as for the order of events, I don’t organize or do anything. For one of my works, because of its complexity and possible length, I tried to come up with an order of events but gave up because the process was starting to take a while and I just wanted to get the story done already. But clearly, I need to go back and redo or finish it because I can’t get past pages 2 or 3 pages of that works.

My Method To Finishing My Book Moving Foreword

You’ve probably already guessed that I may try mixed methods for my work. Possibly more plotting than panstering though. I can’t help but understand how potting benefits me: How it helps keep me organized and progressing towards finishing my work. But still, there is another issue. How do I plot? I think I’ve figured out how to panster, but plotting can also come in many shapes and forms. Which way of plotting is best for me.

Until my next words (on here that is)
Christa

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