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April 29, 2014

To Outline or Not to Outline

To outline or not to outline...

That is now the surprising question.

Although I'm still learning when it comes to writing (and, in fact, aren't we always learning?), I'd always done things the same way up till now: outline outline outline!

Perhaps it's the need to have control over a process (namely, writing) that in itself is quite creative. Perhaps it's my background as a lawyer that means I like to know what to expect. Or perhaps it's the problem solver in me that likes to think " exactly do they get from meet-cute to HEA?"

Anyway, up until now, I've always been about the outline. Even if it wasn't a completely detailed outline, it always took me along the main events from Point A to HEA. With every story I've written, there has been some kind of outline.

Well, no longer.

As an update on the kickboxing boys, I turned that in last week. (yay!) So keep an eye out for Punch-Drunk Love when the M/M Romance Group releases it this summer alongside a bunch of other nifty freebie stories. Like my other M/M Romance Group freebies BTW I Love You and Man-to-Man Coverage, it's around 15-20K words of fluff. On a separate note, the 15-20K words mark appears to be my sweet spot when writing, but maybe that's a subject for another blog post. :)

Anyway, I completed the kickboxing boys' story and immediately turned to a new one that had been waving its arms at me for attention. This story has taken up my writing time the last few days, and it's basically giving the finger and sticking its tongue out to my other WIPs.

I had a general idea that I wrote down in a quick paragraph of story direction.

But here's the thing...after that, I just sat down and began to write it.

No outline, no other notes, nada.

It's been so much fun.

The story is about a werewolf (yes, watching Teen Wolf has definitely provided some paranormal writing inspiration), and it's pretty much fluffy lycan office romance fun. :) Let's just say surprise shifting, bad dates, some porn mags, and a charming new personal assistant are involved.

The process of not having a process has been eye-opening. It's quite freeing, and I can definitely see the appeal of how writers favor this approach. That isn't to say that I don't have a rough outline in my head, but it's almost like not putting it down on paper has some kind of psychological effect of feeling no pressure to take things one way or another.

It might be that extra step of writing it down that has made me feel more locked into an idea. While my outlines in the past have themselves been fluid, my decision (or reluctance?) to change major points possibly was influenced by the fact that they were already down on paper in the first place. So maybe having it in writing already felt like a commitment, whereas doing it from the inspirational paragraph and whatever thoughts are in my head instead permit a lot more straying.

I have no idea, but it's making me question how I approach my other WIPs. Which could be a good thing. Or a bad thing. >__>

We'll see, right? As it is, I'm working on my werewolf boy for now and will take the others one day at a time. I've had a lot of fun trying out this new approach, so who knows? Maybe that'll be my new MO when it comes to getting my stories onto the page.

I've heard so many things about how people plan their stories one way or the other. If you have any opinions on how to organize and put together your tale, please share. I'm curious to hear what you guys think. =)

Now...back to my werewolf!



  1. I can't outline for the life of me. I envy those who can. So you've switched to the dark side, huh? LOL
    Can't wait to read it. Oh, Teen wolf. After watching the first two seasons I wrote a full 5 pages story prompt (which is basically an outline, now that I think about it O_O). This show has a way of sticking to you.

    1. Yes, dark side indeed! :D The writing has really flowed on this story, so I'm inclined to try the no outline thing for my next one.

      I hope you write the story you prompted/outlined! Sounds like it could be a lot of fun. :) TW is definitely inspiring - and not just the unbelievable number of times they run around shirtless! o_O