Thursday, March 18, 2010

Aw. She's Growing Up...

Important stuff first. My first 750 words are up on Fiction Groupie for Beta Club if you want to check it out. Any feedback would be awesome and appreciated. :)

Now for the real post.

I have always been and probably always will be a pantser—for the first draft anyway. I love not knowing exactly where things are headed in my story. It keeps me motivated and moving forward. But this rewrite has been much more challenging. Even though I've added/removed a few characters, changed a lot of the plot and rearranged the scenes a bit, overall, I know what needs to happen. For some reason though, I haven't been able to keep it straight in my head, and I find myself wanting to jump forward so I don't forget something important.

So I finally broke down and did it. I made an outline. My very first one. I know. I'm so proud of myself. :D I don't remember where I first saw this method, but it worked very well for me. I just made a list of everything I knew needed to happen, wrote each event on a Post-it and then arranged them like a puzzle on my shiny new whiteboard. (Did I mention I LOVE whiteboards?) It was actually kind of fun.

Doesn't it look pretty? I still have four key scenes that I'm not sure about where they will fit best, but the beauty of this method is I can rearrange things whenever I want. Feels much less restricting than how I've thought of outlining in the past.

So what about you? Do you outline, or are you a devoted pantser?


  1. I'm an in-betweener. I outline, but sometimes that outline only consists of the big events or a vague idea of what should happen in that chapter. The rest is left for winging it as I write.

  2. i've already commented on your beta club bit. ;-)

    And, holy hell i am so so so jealous of your white board! That is genius and now i want to rush out and buy one RIGHT NOW!
    but, i don't know where i would keep it. sadface

  3. Your board looks awesome. I'm an avid pantser as well, but with my current WIP, I made a valiant attempt to outline. I made it to chapter six before I jumped into the writing :/

    I did sketch out a very general summary of where I wanted it to go but the outline was giving me hives. I WISH I could be more disciplined about it because I think having a full outline would be so nice, but my brain fights it.

  4. Awesome! Your whiteboard looks great. :)
    I've tried various incantations of outlining, and I just can't do it. I have to write from the hip, or I end up wasting words. A lot of words. >.<

  5. Nice.

    I use freemind when I need to make a major revision and I want to keep everything straight, but your whiteboard looks much easier to read!

    It's rare that I type any new scene before writing a barebones sort of "telling" version in my notebook that includes a scene goal.

    And I usually don't even get that far if I've only got a story premise. If I can't come up with an ending and a motivated character, I don't start writing yet.

    Working backwards helps me finish what I start, and helps me stay on the right track.

    Great job on your excerpt for Beta Club!

  6. I'm a hesitant pantser who pretends to outline, and really, I'm not very good at either. I like to know where I'm going, but I'm intimidated by the whole process of putting things down on paper. I think I need to just find a happy medium and stop stressing. Your board is awesome, Abby. Thanks for the great post!

  7. Great idea! I wrote my last book without an outline, but I'm going to give outlining a try with the sequel. :-)

  8. I loved your 750 words! I really want to know how the MC dies. Your writing had a great hook and drew me in. :)

    I outline as well, it's much easier that way. I even have some dialog in the outline if its important and they have to say it at some point!

  9. It's so pretty!

    I'm in between. I have to have an outline or I feel like I'm trying to nail jello to the wall. But I allow myself a lot of freedom within the outline (and to change the outline as needed).

  10. I'm definitely an outliner. I absolutely have to or I get lost.

    Pretty whiteboard!

  11. Hi Abby! Just read your entry over at Fiction Groupie. Loved it!

    Your white board rocks, by the way. My outlining technique is much the same... on a virtual whiteboard!

  12. I'm shaking as I type this. Yes, it's pretty. Yes, I think it would help (both me and you). No, I don't think I can do it. I just can't think of the big picture when I write, which is why I can't outline. I have to go piece by piece and get the word vomit out. And I don't even know all the pieces! So yeah.

    Pantsers unite!

  13. Your whiteboard looks impressive. I've never done this before, but I think I'm going to give it a try. I hope my result looks as good as yours. :)

  14. First, I have to say that I loved your excerpt at Fiction Groupie!

    I am not a pantser, but I'm not a rabid outliner either. I had to come up with a very general outline, just enough to know the major plot points of my story, but I left a lot of room for the details. So far it's worked well for me. I love your whiteboard idea - I will definitely try it:)

  15. It looks very pretty. ;)

    I'm a outliner. But I'm also big on doing most of my characterizations and research first. Hence why it takes a while to get things going--especially if I have several projects on the go.

    I'm looking forward to read your first 750 words.

  16. Your whiteboard is so pretty that I thought it was an inlaid bracelet when I saw the tiny photo in my reader. This looks like a great approach. I truly wish I was organized instead of a pantser.
    I put a comment on Roni's site. I'm worried about whether I made sense, but you can email me if I didn't.

  17. I'm definitely a pantser for this book. But I think that once I have a completed novel under my belt, I will have a better idea HOW to plan my next one. The only way I could even get started with this one was to just start writing something.

    And, yes I love the shiny board with the pretty pink posties!

    Only I would need like... 300 of them.

    I'm hopping over to look at your excerpt right now!

  18. I love it when pantsers join the "dark side" (where we offer cookies) and start outlining - makes me feel less weird for being so hyper organized. Although...I must say your white board kicks the butt of any of my outlines. I love it!

  19. What an awesome way to outline! I get very freaked when I try to outline. Suddenly, I have things that don't go anywhere, and scenes that go everywhere, and ack, what do I do??

    I'll definitely have to try this one. And I adore post-its, so it's even better. :)

  20. I've actually made an outline for this WIP. I was quite proud of (surprised at) myself. I haven't really been referring to it that much but knowing it's there is a bit of a comfort when I feel like I'm losing track of what I was doing.

    And yes, your outline is beautiful! ;o)

  21. KM ~ There are cookies? What kind of cookies? I may be tempted to join the Dark Side.

    (P.S. What IS this whole "dark side / cookie" thing anyway? I see it on Facebook but have no idea where it came from.)