If you have spent even a modicum of time in the writing community you know that there are two kinds of writers. Outliners and Pantsers. Let me explain for the uninitiated. An Outliner prepares an outline for the story, prepares for what is going to be written, and sets it out on paper (or Word doc). A Pantser is someone who has an idea, or a character, or a place, and just runs with it. There is little preparation. They are flying by the seat of their pants.
Now I started writing as a Pantser. I barely planned anything. Usually it was a vague idea of what I was going to do; I did not organize anything until the book was half way written and I needed to get organized to bring it all together. It worked out well for my first couple books (admittedly I have yet to fix the problems I found in the first book that probably could have been avoided if I outlined). Each subsequent book has been more and more organized. I outline, I do a synopsis, I revise the outline as I go. I am much more organized.
Now I am not going to extoll you with the virtues of Outlining over Pantsing. Everybody has there happy place in that spectrum, but what I am going to do is share one little advantage to Outlining.
Today I started rereading the last couple chapters of Beyond the Darkside so I could refamiliarize myself with the story. I get through the chapters and realize I left two dangling tidbits of story there. I went back to look for my outline, because of course I did an outline…right?
Nope. No outline. Nothing. No notes. I had taken no concern for the future. Probably because I was writing a lot and did not anticipate a sudden stop, a break for a couple years, so there were no notes. If I had outlined I would at least have an idea as to what I was planning to do with these two hooks. Now I have to reinvent their use. Maybe it will be better, but maybe my original thought was amazing. We will never know.
There you have it, my tale of writing tragedy, and a cautionary tale in favor of outlining.
Have you got any tragic organizational stories to share?
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