I hate detailed outlines.
There, I said it.
Yes, I understand the need to know exactly what’s going to happen in my book. Yes, I get that I should have these plot twists and aha! moments in firm mental view before I start writing. Yes, I get that it takes some of the oh crap what is this author going to deliver this time stress off my incredibly talented and long-suffering editor.
Here’s a dirty secret I don’t tell everyone: I am, by writing nature, a pantser.
I love the thrill of the write. The feeling that I’m reading a book, not knowing exactly what’s going to happen next, except it’s me coming up with the words. The rush of those words spilling out from my unconscious onto the notepad or computer screen.
Ok. I will admit that there are (many) times when that approach involves adrenaline and white knuckles and why do I do this to myself moments. Swearing up and down that next time – NEXT TIME – I will do a proper outline and save myself from this stress.
Probably explains why, for Shifting Loyalties (book 3 in my Mark of the Moon series), I agreed to do it. The dreaded outline. In detail.
And I’ve tried to follow it. I have.
So…yes, I will admit that it has helped. In many places. Rather than staring at the wall or into space trying to figure out the what next of it all, I have an idea of the next what. Those days when I’m feeling uninspired, it’s ok because I KNOW WHAT COMES NEXT.
I’ve relied on it so much this time, though, that when I hit a point where I didn’t have the story outlined in detail – more of a broad brush with smudges at the edges – I went blank. And then I remembered why I did the outline. Because suddenly all I had to work with was a pristine page and a series of bullet points that said, essentially, something big happens and wrap up the story.
I’ll let you know when I get there. J
Beth Dranoff is the author of the Mark of the Moon series, published by Carina Press and Harlequin and available through most online retailers. She lives in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada, with her family, her dog and more books than she can count. Is it before noon? Then there’s probably a mug of coffee nearby as well.