Outlining vs Pantsing

Do I outline, or do I pants? It’s a question many a writer has asked before, and I’m no different.

I’ve done both, but I find my primary method is to outline. This of course has it’s drawbacks though. While I have a clearer picture of where my story is going and how it will end, it also steals away any surprise/suspense I have. It’s something I’ve struggled with, and I hate that feeling I get after I’ve finished a full outline: boredom.

This is why I’ve been trying something slightly new – a modified approach, if you will.

Normally in my writing process I follow these steps:

  1. Base idea origination: this is the bottom line ‘pitch’ in my head that starts the whole thing up.
  2. Basic main character conception.
  3. Ideal ending generation.
  4. Random event generation: this is the point in which I just start writing out all the random scenarios I think would be fun or neat to read/write.
  5. Event coordination: I then take my random events and start to put them in a more coherent order when it’s clear that scene D can’t happen until A B and C are in place.
  6. Filling in the gaps / Outline: At this point I have the scenes that mean most to me and the order (which is still adjustable in many cases) that I’d like to see them in. Now the time between those scenes need to be filled in, connecting all the dots together to create ‘the story’.
  7. Drop it like it’s hot: Right around this time that feeling of boredom sets in now that my entire story is already laid out. Sure it’s more like a lengthy synopsis, but I feel like it’s been told and writing more gives no satisfaction. So I have to drop it for a bit until that feeling goes away.
  8. Write the rough draft.
  9. Hide it in a folder for a month or three.
  10. Revise.
  11. Edit and revise again.
  12. Revise again.
  13. Get a second opinion: this is where a writers group or beta readers REALLY shine.
  14. Edit and revise again.
  15. Rinse and repeat as many times is necessary or until my sanity gives out.

So anyway that’s basically the full list, but with my current WIP I have decided to stop somewhere between numbersĀ 5 andĀ 6. I have my characters, my ideal ending and my random events already, but instead of doing a full outline all at once I’m going to try and do it a couple chapters at a time with plenty of room to pants-it.

Hopefully this will keep me intrigued all the way through. Sadly I haven’t made much progress since last week for various reasons, but I’m hopeful that I can dive back into it here shortly.


Regarding PitchWars:

Still no word on this which can mean 1 of two things: 1) my first chapter / query just wasn’t engaging enough or 2) my submission didn’t actually go through. I’m more inclined to think it’s #1 due to the number of competitors I was up against, but the hopeful part of me wants to consider #2 as well. I don’t recall getting any message after submitting, but then again I don’t know that I was looking out for one either.

In the end, it’s been a week and I think by now most of the mentors have chosen the stories they’d like to request more for, and mine was not amongst them. But I’m honestly okay with this. I’m trying to work on my current WIP, and while I’d like the old one to be out of my hands already, this gives me more time to do ‘stuff.’

I sincerely wish all the people who were accepted the best of luck though, and I hope all of them find an agent!

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