Outlining 101: Planners, Pantsers and the Plan

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When you start writing your book you will need to have an idea of how to start. I know that there are Pantsers and Planners when it comes to writing novels. Planners are the type of people who make detailed outlines before they even start writing. Pantsers are the writers who just write the book straight from their head. However there are a few variations of these two type of writers.

There are writers who make their outline in their head and write the novel based off of that. These people I like to call the Invisible Planners. There are also people (like myself) who start writing without an outlines until they get a feel for the idea, and then they make the outline. These people I like to call Pantsy Planners. There are a lot of different type of writers, and ever writer should have their own unique process that works for them.

Every writer should have some kind of plan when they tackle a novel, no matter how detailed or bare-boned. Outlines give the writer direction, and even Pantsers have a plan, it just happens to unfold as they write. Planners are not better than Panstsers, and Pantsers are not better than Planners. The honest truth is that when you write a book it will always need to be changed. That’s what the editing and revising phases are for!

It’s true that Pantsers spend more time on fixing and refining their plot after they’ve done the first draft, but that’s not bad. It makes them take a hard look at their plot and makes them work their problem-solving muscles. It’s a process that might work for them, and if they realize that they should’ve had an outline, then it was a learning experience. My advice to Pansters is this: figure out your process and try making a very basic outline to see if it helps.

Planners on the other hand have a different set of issues they deal with. Sometimes they feel like they are restricted by their outline and writing doesn’t feel as freeing as it had before. Some don’t have this problem. There are planners who don’t experience any issues with having an outline. Personally, I sometimes feel like by having an outline my plot becomes predictable. However, I’ve found a way to fix this. When you write your outline don’t make it super detailed. I usually start by listing all my major events and find out how they affect each other. Cause and effect. Here’s my piece of advice to Planners: allow new and wild ideas to slip into your novel. You can always change your plan.

Outlines are useful tools for writers, but that does not mean that they can’t be inhibiting either. Every writer is different and they have to find their own process.

Thank you for reading,

Lalia LaRose

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