The Beast That Is Outlining
Outlining. Pain in the ass. Children run out of class rooms when their teachers mention it. You groan. I groan. We all groan.
I get it. It sucks. It’s less fun than editing and . . . wait. No. Nothing is less fun than editing. I would rather chew off my own arm and swing it at my father than edit. No offense dad, I love you, it’s just you’re sitting in the next room as I type this.
Outlining though painful and- hey what’s a word that means it feels like your teeth are being pulled out of her head and shoved back in the bleeding gums over and over and over and- well you get it.
Outlining DOES have some crazy benefits that I’ve experienced while writing this novel so hear me out before grabbing the pitch forks.
1. Never Face a Blank Page
- Outlining just key scenes makes it so you never face a blank page while writing. The hardest part of your job becomes the first sentence of every chapter. Hard but not I’M RETHINKING MY ENTIRE LIFE’S PURSUIT hard
2. The Really Hard Part is Over
- Similar to the first one, take a chill pill please, I’m making a point. You’ve done the hard part of figuring out what happens. This is a huge weight off. Writing isn’t about thinking anymore. It’s about making the words sound better.
3. No Plot Holes
- Err, well — You lower the chances of plot holes. If you outline right and STICK to the outline, there are no potholes. No loose ends to tie up. It’s completely shielded from plot holes . . . in theory. Just make sure you do it right okay?
4. Edit Faster
- You can edit an outline way, way faster than editing a 90k word novel
5. Edit Faster Part 2
- Editing time for your novel goes down by a lot. . . uh, well, theoretically we’re still in the process of figuring this one out. so count this as a half point
6. Inspiration Can Still Rule!
- You can always leave room for inspirational changes. Yes. Yes you can. Stop disagreeing with me. You can. Yes— okay moving on.
7. Outlining is super customizable.
- You can do hardcore outlining where you highlight emotions, characteristic, movements, inhalations, and exhalations of each character. This is really heavy work but BASICALLY after you’re done you have a first draft ready. All that’s left is to make big word look good on pretty page.
- You can outline key scenes
- You can outline outcomes of each novel if it’s a series. Book one. She defeats wizard and learns to forgive herself. Book two: She’s killed and sent to the after life. Learns don’t trust men with coke in their nostrils. Book three: A necklace is destroyed. Learns love is more important than material objects.
(Notice how each ending is paired with a learning lesson? Sorry, you gotta have your character learn something in each of your novels. I know, I know I JUST WANT MY CHARACTER TO BLOW UP STUFF AND SCRATCH HIS ASS AND PUFF A CIGAR . . . I get it. But if they don’t learn something valuable the audience, either consciously or unconsciously, is going to be disappointing.) OOF, I sounded so teacher like there. Don’t worry the moment’s passed.
8. FASTEST WAY TO COMMERCIAL WRITING
If you want to be a commercial writer, outlining is typically the fastest way to do that. I outlined my novel in one month. Wrote it in five weeks and one day.
Yes, yes, it’s only 54k words. 54K IS NOVEL LENGTH ALRIGHT GET OFF MY BACK CHAD I’M A REAL NOVELIST I SWEAR I’LL FIGHT YOU FOR MY TITLE *starts crying*
Now let’s talk about some of the negatives out being an outliner. Oh, crap maybe I should have put this at the beginning.
- Inspiration goes way down after figuring out everything that happens. I wasn’t inspired for more than five chapters of my novel this time. That’s 31 chapters I was beating my head against the wall. BUT you do finish faster so the time beating your head against a wall isn’t that long. Sorry, sorry, back to the negatives.
- Stephen King thinks you’re a dunce. I could expand on this but you can do a google search. If I type out his quote about outliners one more time I might become a discovery writer and I REALLY can’t afford that.
- Following a detailed 17k word outline is basically checking off a check list for each chapter. It’s tedious. You do get into the flow at some point, but honestly . . . you just groan a lot. Make a lot of coffee. Find yourself WANTING to do the dishes, and laundry, and taking beans out of your kids nose just so you don’t have to look at the outline again.
Here’s the point: Outlining comes down to 2 questions
One: Do you like editing?
* No : Be an outliner
* Yes: Discovery write honey. It’s the most fun way to make a novel.
Two: Are you serious about publishing two books every year?
* No: Be a discovery writer. Take your time. Enjoy the process. Write because it enriches your life.
* Yes: Be an outliner . . . I’ll pray for you.
All this to say, Howdy, my name is Kate and I’m an outliner. Not always a proud one. Maybe not even a good one.
If you’re an outliner too, drop me a comment about your process. If you disdain outlining with the burning rage of hell . . . I mean I guess drop me a comment? You know what sure. Sure! We’re progressive here. Tell me why I suck in the comments below. Go on Stephen King, I know you want to.
Aight, Stay Saucy.
XOXO - Kate