My writer friends are a mix of both pantsers and plotters, some enjoying a little bit of both - or planters, as my friend Corinne O'Flynn might say.
I suppose I fall into that latter category. I'm still getting used to the idea of plotting out my ideas and getting the gist of the story on paper in the form of an outline before I actually start writing the story itself. The first half of my WIP was written almost entirely on a pantser's whim, but on the suggestion of one of my CPs, I decided to see if I can get more clarity by outlining the rest of the story.
Reason for this is my vortex of suckery. If you've read my previous blog post on the vortex, you know that it's not a pretty place. The second half of the WIP is where a considerable amount of the action is and therefore, the pacing of the story gets upped a noticeable difference.
I was stuck.
I didn't have the slightest idea where I wanted to take things. I had mapped out the ending and now I just needed to find a way to get there. That's where the plotting comes in handy. I had to sit down and really think about what I needed to happen in order for the events to chronologically be accurate as far as where the story was going. I had to take back some of the control from my characters so that I can guide them to the eventual end of the story.
I have to be honest, I kind of freaked out a little only because I didn't even know where to start with STARTING an outline. So I did the only thing I can think of: I started with a sheet of paper and a pen. Normally, I would pull up a word doc, but something about being able to cross things out and insert little notes wherever you feel like it on that sheet of paper does something to get the creative juices flowing.
So I kept at it and by the time I was done, I had gotten down the major points for the remaining chapters of my WIP. Another thing that my outlining attempt did was help me to keep the pace of the story. I wasn't just flailing blindly into an unknown area, I actually knew what needed to be there in order to move the story along.
Check out some of the great outlining excerpts below from some noteworthy authors:
How do you guys feel about outlines and do you use them at all?