Planning – Part 2 (The Outline)

To outline, or not to outline, that is the question.

The topic of outlining seems to be somewhat controversial amongst writers. There are many successful authors, such as J. K. Rowling and Jodi Picoult, who like to have, at the least, a basic plot outline. But, there are also other successful authors, such as Khaled Hosseini or Stephen King, who feel that having an outline boxes them in and takes away from the spontaneity of writing and, therefore, the story.

I can see why some writers believe that having a plot outline can make a story or its characters seem less realistic. It’s not like everything in our lives is planned out and executed perfectly. Or that there are never any surprises. But could it also be that these successful writers have gained so much experience over the numerous books they’ve written, that they haven’t felt the need to make an outline in a long time?

However, why then do other very successful writers still believe that having an outline is beneficial to the writing process? I suppose having already figured out any kinks and plot holes in the outline provides a sense of reliability and makes for a more organized, comfortable and enjoyable writing experience.

Having only just entered the magical universe of doing some serious writing, I feel that not having an outline is very brave, and kinda crazy. That’s why I’ve started a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline of my story. You could argue that that’s slightly extreme, but not knowing if I will have to redo everything because my story has ended up riddled with loads of plot holes, makes me really anxious. Maybe that will change as I gain more experience, but for now I definitely think I will feel more confident writing when I know what’s coming up.

Who knows? Maybe once I start writing, I will naturally divert off course and let my curiosity and spontaneity take lead…

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