• Blog,  The Writing Process

    A Novel Outline: An Exercise in Plotting (Part I)

    Howdy!* In my last post, I spoke briefly about two categories of writers: pantsers and plotters. I didn’t go into much detail, but I did drop a link to Jane Friedman’s wonderful blog. To be brief: a plotter tends to enjoy structure (i.e. writes a novel outline) while a pantser tends to enjoy discovery (i.e. writes what comes to mind). As with most things, there will be overlap, so these definitions aren’t all encompassing.

    Pantser (usually doesn't have a novel outline)
    Plotter (usually has a novel outline).

    Despite being the most Virgo of Virgos in almost every other way (from my love of spreadsheets/lists to my love of order), I’m 70% a pantser. I’ve always written out of order, jotting down scenes and sections as they come. Don’t get me wrong. I always know the general plot, and I spend a lot of time getting to know the characters/researching before I begin writing scenes. But I’ve never been one to know scene by scene what’s coming.

    When I started my most recent project, I made a promise to write freely and openly in July and August. In fact, the goal was to avoid plotting wherever possible (in favor of getting words/ideas on the page). But it’s September now and, in the spirit of doing something both anti- and pro-Virgo**, I’ve decided to set a different goal for myself: write a novel outline.