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From Pantsing to Plantsing: Why I changed and how to get started

I didn’t used to be an outliner. I was Team Pantser all the way. I loved the freedom and fluidity of writing when the muse hit me, as it hit me. I felt the story was more “real” that way. I looked at outliners and scowled, thinking that they stifled themselves and their story by trying to put it into a box.

Anyone else here relate to that?

This is where my personal writing journey comes in. I found myself taking FOREVER AND A DAY to write my books. I felt disorganized and my plot was constantly changing. I would go back and forth on something for weeks; writing it first one way and then the other only to return back to what I had originally done. I felt that I wasn’t (scratch that) I wasn’t being productive with my time. I would miss important pieces of story structure. There would be gaping holes in my plot, and even when I thought I fixed everything, it still felt that the floor was going to fall out from beneath me, in a not-so-good way.

Way back when, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Writing Excuses. At the end of every episode, they give you a writing prompt (at least they used to, I confess that it’s been a hot minute since I’ve listened). I really liked the prompt, and it sparked a story almost instantly.

For the first time ever, I sat down and actually outlined a plot. It wasn’t the best or most complete outline, but I outlined.

And you know what?

I wrote that story in 30 days.

Now, this isn’t a blog post to convince you to be an outliner. Not at all. This is merely walking you through my experience of becoming a Planster (Planner + Pantser).

I realized that if I knew key events ahead of time, I could map out my plot and structure so much more effectively and easily and just write, with a roadmap to guide me. It also helped with writer’s block. If I didn’t know where to go on one scene, it was okay, I would let it rest and hop to the next one I knew I needed to write and where I wanted it to go.

The beauty of outlining is that you can be as detailed or as sparse as you want to be.

If you are dipping your toe into the world of outlining, I would suggest maybe hitting up just the main plot points of your novel. You’ll find out what works for you (or what doesn’t), when it comes to outlining. You may find you love it.

I put together a little outlining sheet for you, to help you in your outlining journey, and as I was typing it up, I started to put more explanations to each part than an outline warrants.

As I was writing it, I had to remind myself, that the details need to be explained in a blog post. So, that’s what I’m going to be doing this month. I’m going to be walking you through the outline and the different parts of your story based on my 10+ years of writing experience, and a handful of resources that I absolutely adore.

Even as I’m typing this, I’m reading yet another craft book (I have over 20 that I haven’t read, still) that I will be updating this outline with.

So, if you want it, please just shoot me a quick email through my website’s Contact Me section and just put, “Outline, please!” and your email, in case that doesn’t come through and I’ll happily send it your way!

Do you outline? If so, how do you approach it? If not, what are your reasons?

Happy writing and I’ll see you in The Writer Community!


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