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Confessions of a Pantser-turned-Outliner

I used to hate outlining. Like, I would rather revise a novel nine times to avoid drafting a three-page synopsis. In my mind, the act of planning a book ruined the act of actually writing a book.

This was before I realized what kind of books I tend to write. In a word, they're complicated. I like complicated characters, complicated plots, complicated worlds. I like science fiction and fantasy and magical realism and mysteries. I like surprise twists and unexpected endings. 

And after a handful of finished (*cough*half-finished*cough*) manuscripts, I realized that pantsing each of my twisty crazy books just gave me a headache and a plot that looked like tangled ball of yarn. 

This is how I became an outliner.

I still firmly believe there's no "right" way to go about writing a book. I "pantsed" my way through a couple books, and I loved it. It was fun and thrilling to let the story lead me. But with other books - those twisty, crazy ones - I needed to take a step back. I needed to spread out the story's bones to see them from all angles. 

How about you? Are you a pantser-turned-outliner? What works best for you?

Kristin Briana Otts

Kristin is an aspiring YA author with an abiding love for her dog, ghost hunter tv shows, and rainy days.

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  1. Ooo... total outliner here. Blake Snyder changed my life!!! I feel like having an outline--even if it's one of those fluid-because-I-change-my-mind-a-LOT kind of outlines--helps out a TON when it comes to those days when staring at a blank screen and a cursor is like staring into the black abyss. It just gives me something to work with, ya know?

    But that's a change from my early days of writing... back when young whipper snapper me pants-ed it like nobody's business. I'm definitely a changed woman!

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  3. I use to be a pantster, but now I outline which works best for me :). I do have unfinished manuscripts, but realized the unfinished ones were the ones I pantsied because eventually, I would hit a wall and then look back and then want to make changes and each change lead to another and on and on and on and UGH. It was fun, but now I outline and actually finish manuscripts :).

  4. I have transformed into an outliner. My first couple of stories were written in true panster style. I sketched a rough outline for the last two stories and found I liked it. When an idea hit me, I placed it in the section of the outline where it fit. I still allow the character to lead me, but like having the outline to refer to.

  5. Complete pantser here... I'm tempted to REFORM MY WAYS reading this and the comments... Things do get messy in the end...

  6. I'd like to be an outliner! For me, though, it seems like I can only know what happens next by writing my way to it.


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Item Reviewed: Confessions of a Pantser-turned-Outliner Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Briana Otts