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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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6 comments:

  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 :).

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  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.

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

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  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