Breaking From Your Outline

imagesMost authors, myself included, approach their stories methodically and with detailed outlines. While some are more thorough than others, it’s a common practice among writers. By planning things out and organizing our thoughts beforehand, we can approach our stories efficiently and typically without boring filler that will bore our readers.

But sometimes it’s good to get away from your outline, to break from the beaten path you’d planned on taking. Perhaps something you’d been planning, be it a crucial decision for one of your characters or a pivotal twist in your plot, no longer seems appropriate for the direction your writing has taken. This happens to me pretty frequently. I’m moving smoothly along and everything is going great and then BOOM! Something doesn’t add up. Maybe I’ve thought of a better direction for the scene, or maybe I’ve just realized one of the decisions I’d scripted for a character no longer fits their personality.

Web_outlineThese bumps in the road are normal and can even be a gift if you allow yourself to look at them that way. Go with the feeling and let it guide you. Outlines are just rough blueprints comprised of initial brainstorms, no matter how detailed they might be. Our best ideas are rarely the first ones that come to mind so allow yourself and your story to grow naturally as you write.

I should mention, however, that not all writers use an outline. There is a unique form of writing that flows with the moment and never plans anything ahead of time. This is what’s known as a pantser, a writer who flies by the seat of his or her pants (which should explain the name). I myself can’t imagine working this way as it flies directly in the face of my over analyzing personality. My initial outlines might be passing thoughts on the subject but even those are revised countless times before I actually begin writing that part of the story. If it works for you, however, great! I actually think it would be an amazing experience to write a novel with this method and hope to one day accomplish it. Spontaneous plotting seems like a fantastic way to get to know your characters on a deeper level that’s even more intimate. But that’s just my two cents.

How about you? Which method do you prefer? Leave your feedback below and if you like my blog, please feel free to follow for more writing tips.

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