Ask Correia 16: Outlining vs. Pantsing

The Ask Correia posts are when I’ve gotten a writing related question. I haven’t done one for a while, but for any aspiring authors who’ve joined us on MHN, there are a bunch of these now under the Best Of tab. I got this on Facebook a couple of days ago.

Larry,

Are you still doing any of the Ask Correia posts? If so, I’ve got to ask you about outlining a novel. I’ve been a pantser, but frankly, my 57,000 words of my novel so far completely suck. Way too much of it is a series of events rather than part of an overall plot.

How do you plot and outline a book?

And, if you don’t do the Ask Correia posts, that’s cool too

I still do these, and I try to answer the ones I can when I’m feeling inspired by my muse… Okay, not really, I answer them as I have time in between paying projects, or there is something I need to do, but I really don’t want to do it right now, but by blogging I can trick my brain into thinking that I’m actually working. 🙂

First off let’s talk about the two basic methods of novel writing. Outlining, which is what I mostly do, and discovery writing or “pantsing”, which is done by many really successful authors. Outlining is self-explanatory. You outline what is going to happen in the book before you actually write it. Pantsing means you fly by the seat of your pants and make it up as you go along.

There isn’t really a correct method. Either one method works for you, or it doesn’t, or you use a combination of the two. Whatever. The important thing is you write a good, sellable book. Here is my usual disclaimer about anything related to writing, despite what your English teacher told you, there aren’t really any rules to this stuff. The only rules are 1. If your readers like it, you can do it. 2. If your readers think it sucks, take it out. For every rule you find, there’s a bunch of writers who violate the hell out of it and sell a lot of books. So the following is just my opinion about what has worked for me.

Both methods have their pros and cons.

Discovery writing is cool because you can be super creative, and sometimes your brain will surprise you with the awesome things it can come up with on the fly. You “discover” stuff along with your characters. This is where you can have real unbridled creativity. The danger is that you run into what our original poster has, and you’ve got a series of cool events that don’t really mesh. Or worse, you write yourself into a corner. And the absolute worst of the worst, because of what you’ve already done, you can’t come up with a satisfying ending.

When Stephen King isn’t pontificating about political topics he’s fucking clueless about like gun control or government healthcare or anything vaguely related to the military, he’s one of the most successful authors ever. If I recall correctly he’s a pantser. He’s also one of the best damned wordsmiths who has ever lived. Nobody else strings evocative language together like he does, but personally I think his endings tend to fall flat. This is all a personal opinion so I’m sure I’m going to get jumped on by his fans, but when I read a King book it is like he gives us 700 pages of brilliance and then… eh… I’m bored. Guess I better wrap this thing up… Uh… Everybody dies. Aliens did it. The end.

The positive things I can say about discovery writing come from other people, because frankly my brain just isn’t wired to write that way. If I don’t at least know what I’m working toward, then I end up futzing around without a clue. I need a goal.

I know other writers who love discovery writing. They love the freedom and the creativity, and because they are having fun, that fun is contagious and comes through to their readers.

Personally, I have to outline. The nice thing about outlining is that you know where you want to end up. You know what needs to happen in order for you to get there. Now you just need to fill in all that pesky story. The story is the meat that goes on the skeletal outline. The major downside with outlining is that you can stifle your natural creativity. You can be too devoted to your outline.

This is how I do it, and it is what works for me. Aspiring authors will just have to experiment until they find what clicks for them. I’m what I consider a loose outliner. When I start a book I create an outline that is usually only a few pages long. Tops. The more complicated the book’s plot, the more outline it requires.

My outlines usually consist of a sort of timeline. I’ve already got scenes in mind. I know what needs to happen to who, when.  I put these scenes in order, knowing that the order may need to change on the fly. Most of my main characters are fairly fleshed out at this point, and I know basically what their arc is supposed to be. I’ll usually mentally divide the book into sections, and I know where I want everybody to be at the end of each section. Then I know basically how I want it to end. I might not know the nature of the climax, but I usually know what I want the outcome to be.

Once I start writing the outline is just a tool. It isn’t sacred. It isn’t scripture. If I’m at twenty thousand words in and the character has developed or changed and I’ve thought of something cooler to do, I change my outline. If I’ve written something that I planned, and it turns out that it doesn’t actually work like I imagined, then I can scrap that part of the outline, tweak it accordingly, cut the bad parts, and then get back to work. This part is difficult because sometimes that means tossing days of what felt like productive work, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by keeping it.

But no matter what I tweak or change, I always have that basic outline to work toward the planned ending. It helps me stay focused. For example, say that the next scene I need to write is difficult for some reason. I’m stuck. At this point many writers declare “Writer’s Block” and expect people on Twitter to feel sorry for their muse of whatever artsy fartsy BS creative types make up to feel better about themselves, but we’ve talked about Writers Block and how it is bullshit on here before. So, if I run into one of these hard but necessary scenes, and I really don’t want to write it right now, I simply skip it, and because I’ve got an outline of future scenes I go ahead and write the next bit that I’m interested in.

Doing that, there have been several times where I’ve skipped a scene earlier in the book, then gone back once I’ve written the finale, and then wrote that hard scene, and the hard scene turned out better for it because now I know exactly what needs to transpire. That’s the beauty of word processors. I can’t imagine what it was like back in the typewriter or pen and paper days, except that I probably wouldn’t have made a very good living at this stuff.

Outlines are awesome, as long as you keep in mind they are just another tool in the tool box. The goal is to make an awesome book that people will purchase because it makes them happy, so whatever you need to do to make that happen is what needs to happen. If the outline gets in the way, break it, change it, do whatever you need to do.

SPOILERS.

No seriously, if you haven’t read Spellbound, skip this paragraph. SPOILERS. For example, when I was writing Spellbound my original outline had the finale be the fight on Mason Island, culminating in Crow getting tossed in the black hole and everybody thinking Faye was dead. . Then I wrote it and eh… It wasn’t BIG enough. Especially after the way Hard Magic ended with the biggest action scene ever. A friend read that super early draft also and felt the same way. (actually it was Steve Diamond from Elitist Book Reviews and the reason he got to read it that early was because he was a character who originally died in that scene) 🙂  So the Mason Island sequence was shrunk a bit and that whole giant kaiju fight across Washington DC was added afterwards. Way better.

END SPOILERS

So in that particular case my outline, which had seemed fine in my imagination before, wasn’t correct for the book. So I tossed the outline and came up with a new climax. I really thought that would have worked, but I was wrong. Remember, the important thing is to make your readers happy, not to prove how clever you are as an author.

So how much outlining should you do? As much as you personally need. I know some epic fantasy authors that write a whole extra book worth of stuff to go along with the book you actually see. Other author’s outlines would fit on a napkin.

I only outline for longer projects. Short stories usually aren’t worth it. Normally for a short I’ll have a basic idea of what is going to happen and I just write it. It is a lot easier to write yourself into a corner over the long course of a book than in a few thousand words. The longer the project, the more outline. I’m currently working on something that would be considered novella size. It has half a page of notes and I’m not really sure how it ends. But since I can write it in less than a week, I’m not going to stress out about it.

How much outlining is too much? This gets the same answer as how much research is too much. If you’ve gotten to the point where it is keeping you from writing the actual book, it is too much. If you’re putting off the business of writing so that you can futz around on the internet looking stuff up for more than a few days, you’re screwing around. Quit screwing around and start writing. There’s no reason you can’t write the parts you know and then fill in the rest of the outline later. The important thing is to get words on the screen.

The most outlining I’ve ever done has been for my upcoming epic fantasy project. I’m at like 40 pages, an Excel timeline for 1200 years, and a bunch of hand drawn maps, but I’d say most of that is world building rather than a pure outline of the plot. Because I’ve fabricated the whole world, that has required more forethought than my other worlds, because at least those worlds were starting from a real world baseline.  Even when I tweaked those worlds to make them different, there was at least a starting point.

Outlining has one other business perk. If you ever do any writing for somebody else’s IP, then they are going to want an outline first. For example, the stuff that I’ve written for Privateer Press for the Warmachine universe they wanted very detailed outlines before I started. The outline for Into the Storm—the final novel is less than 100k words—was more detailed than my outlines for the first three MHI books put together, and those clock in at over half a million words. I’ve got another project that I pitched to them, which is bigger and more complex, and it has the most detailed scene by scene outline of anything I’ve ever created in my life. If you are writing for somebody else’s established world, they are going to want to make darned sure that you aren’t going to screw up their existing continuum before you both waste time and money creating something that doesn’t fit.

I heard super author Chuck Dixon say that once he was experienced enough, he could write the beginning and the end of a story, and then go back later and fill in the entire middle. This was for comic books, but the principle remains the same. If you know what has to happen, writing it becomes easier.

A lot of that whining you get from inexperienced authors being frustrated while staring at a blinking cursor is usually because they don’t know what is going to happen, so they’re stuck. If that is happening to you, then I hate to break it to you, you’re probably not a discovery writer. Step away from the computer, take a walk, and plan your story first.

If you try to outline a story and you just can’t, fine, but if you can sit in front of the keyboard and your brain vomits out brilliance, awesome. You are a discovery writer. Have fun. Now go be brilliant.

Do whatever you need to do to create the story. Just because there are stupid memes and cartoons about how hard it is to be an author on Facebook doesn’t make it true. There is no pride in being a “struggling artist” or any of that angsty crap. This is your job. Treat it like one. If your methods aren’t working, change your methods until they do.

56 Responses

  1. Larry, thanks for asking my question.

    What I’m trying right now is to use an Excel spreadsheet to do a brief description of what is supposed to happen. Not necessarily per chapter, but from the different POVs.

    Not sure how that’s going to work on my next project. I’m close enough to the end of my current one that I’m not worrying about it. I already know what happens all the way up to the last page, even though it’s only in my head.

    Here’s hoping it works 🙂

  2. This is an awesome post, I find that I am a mix of both methods, I generally have the beginning and ending first and than can work on plotting out points from points a to z.
    Once I get going though I have a lot to fill in still and stuff sometimes goes in different directions than I first expected.
    I find this works rather well for me, though my stories so far are only around 60,000 and 70,000 words long.

  3. I want to be a super relaxed pantser, but man oh man do I have an attention problem. If I don’t operate from a list of scenes, I end up staring into space or doing ‘research’. I am just trying to find the best way to outline that doesn’t kill the discovery of the story for me.

  4. Honestly, I just don’t know how discovery writers do it.

    I even have to outline my short stories. Otherwise, I just stare at a blank screen.

    • Don’t worry, I’ve written most of a book that way, and I don’t have a damn clue how I did it either.

      Of course, reading through it, I don’t really think that I did. 🙂

  5. Interesting. I am a total amateur (nothing published or even submitted ;)) and write for my own enjoyment although someday I may try to get something published.
    You have a lot of good stuff here that makes total sense in what I was discovering the hard way. I used to use word but found it too constraining so I moved to Scrivener because it supported being able to work in multiple modes very easily. You can outline or go off road just as easily.
    Outlining helps when you want to get signposts for the big things and help you remain consistent, but it can be very constraining.

  6. Interesting. I just had this conversation with my 11yo daughter the other day who’s writing a story. I noticed she was kind of ‘all over the place’ and said “I don’t think there’s a serious author out there who doesn’t write without an outline”.

    Looks like I am wrong. I’ll need to tell her that tonight when I pick her up.

    • My theory is that people who can keep the plan (goal, whatever) for their story always in mind while they write can pants effectively, because they have a road map to direct their decisions. But for those of us with short attention spans who are easily distracted, an outline provides that map.

      I haven’t written any fiction worth exposing to the light of day, but I outline my nonfiction to make the presentation more effective and easier to understand.

  7. I like your point about discovery, because I find I do that in my technical writing.
    I find that even with a rigid document template, I cannot write it in the ” orthodox specified” order. The more I try the longer it takes and I end up have to rewrite it again and again.
    I find it easier to start with writing the pieces that I know and there are usually enough small sections like this that it goes quickly. Enough of these and you will find you have covered pretty much all the areas you need. Then you spend some good sessions editing for coherence and proper flow and you are done.

    • You know, it’s funny… I’m working on a tech writing degree and any time I write a paper or anything else non-fiction I make a list of what I want to include, decide what the most effective order of information will be, and can then pound out a coherent first draft in short order that is smooth enough it only needs minor editing.

      And I have *never* seriously tried to outline my fiction. What’s up with that?

      This might be the source of my “20K-word wall.” I keep thinking that I’ll certainly figure out what happens next by the time I get there and I just never do.

  8. You point about Stephen King is well made. I was disappointed by the end of the Dark Tower (no spoilers). I thought it was a cop out. 15 years of following the series and that was it??

    • Well, look at life. The really good stuff tends to be very early, then midway in the latter half. Then it starts going downhill, and it rarely gets better. Then it ends.

      • Who enjoys reading fiction b/c it’s like real life? The joy of fiction is making the lives awesome, or at least alot more entertaining to read about than real life.

        Reading about real life is left for the biographies ;).

  9. I’m a bit of both. I have (in my own opinion) really good endings and beginnings planned, but everything else is discovered. Even the characters. Especially the characters. Sometimes they do things that are absurd… until I figure out why. And that’s the fun part.

  10. Larry, thanks for the article and the perspective. I’m writing out the last few chapters of my current story and I tend to go the Pantsing route with the Outline somewhere off to the side for easy reference.

    The problem I am having now is getting the final conflict going because I realized that the characters aren’t stupid so I need to do a better setup. But I am happy to say that I took your advice and skipped ahead when I found myself stuck on one chapter.

  11. Pantser here. I usually have a few very vivid scenes and an end state when I start a book. As it builds momentum I fill in my notes for chapters ahead, and the closer I am to a particular scene the more my notes get detailed. I think of it as “driving as far as the headlights.” It keeps me from worrying about making the ending climactic enough–as long as the whole story arc has a generally upward slope, I can make it work.

  12. I am a pantser myself. The reason there are multiple novellas published in both the Selenoth and Quantum Mortis universes is that I write them as a way of feeling out the world. However, A THRONE OF BONES grew out of a 25-page fantasy wargame rulebook that was my abortive attempt to translate Advanced Squad Leader into squad-based fantasy combat.

    I find that approaching each “chapter” in an epic multi-character as a sort of mini-novella and simply following the characters’ actions in a logical manner works much better for me than trying to plot everything out in an outline. With outlines, I find there can be too much of a tendency to bend the character to fit the needs of the predetermined actions.

    I’m writing the second main novel in the Selenoth series right now, another 850-pager, and I don’t even try to keep track of anything beyond the POV I’m writing at the moment.

  13. I can NOT work with an outline. I’ve been told that outlines are absolutely necessary and I’ve ignored the advice. I remember in college I had a prof that demanded that I turn in an outline for my paper that semester. I wrote the paper, took notes in outline form while editing it and turned that in. Prof told me to change something and I had three weeks to do a cut and paste before the thing was do.

    If I try to do an outline I get reverse pantser’s disease. Usually the problem with being a pantser is either:

    A.) I forgot to include the foreshadowing for this. I better go back and drop a hint in Chapter 1 and 4 and ohhh…maybe 9?

    or

    B.) Crap. Ok. SO I need a big fight with the dragon at the end. How am I gonna get these freaks out of this bog they wandered into so that they’re in the cave to kill the thing?

    Or sometimes block.

    With an outline, I sit and stare at my outline. Total deer-in-headlights-syndrome. I just can’t write STORY (or even academic stuff) once I’ve handcuffed myself like that. I mean, if it works for you, do it but I just can’t.

  14. Just my opinion, people (like me) who combine pantsing and outlining need thier own word, which I hereby declare to be sailors. The outline acts like the wind, which is coming from a constant direction. You are on a boat, trying to get to …that harbor right there! You might be running with the wind, or you might be close hauled tacking into the wind. You know where you want to go, and you know where the rocks and shoals are, you just have to get there.

  15. I’m a total pantser. I haven’t written any published fiction (unless some advertising copy counts) but until today, I hadn’t even considered the possibility of an outline for my tech stuff.

    I think I’ll take David Mill’s advice and try to be a Sailor. Sailor Moon is taken, so I’ll be Sailor Totally Ceres.

  16. I’ve worked various ways. Sometimes I just dive in with little more than an idea, throwing words at the screen and see where it goes. Sometimes I have a general outline. And sometimes I have very detailed outlines.

    Haven’t noticed any particular difference with the results in the final story. I might have to go back and plant Chekhov’s Gun when pantsing. I might find an outlined story developing in unexpected directions and require re-writing the outline. I might find myself getting stuck in a story being pantsed (why does that sound like a high school prank? Oh. Right.) and pause to outline the next bit. And sometimes I’ll just leap off the outline and keep right on going because the story is coming hot and . . . there you are.

    I will say this. There is only one thing more fun than getting “hot” into a story, just tossing down an initial scene as something to develop later and have that initial scene lead to another, and another, and another until, 16,000 words later* you type “the end”.

    As Kipling said in “In the Neolithic Age”: “There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays and every single one of them is right.”

    *My “natural length” is the novelette. It takes quite a bit of effort for me to write either longer or shorter. And thus, I think novels or shorter short stories require more planning for me to write.

  17. My method matches Larry’s pretty closely. And my thoughts about the matter are the same.

    For those of you who are pantsers and want to come to the other side let me share Maya Lassiter’s story: http://johndbrown.com/2012/07/generating-story-14-freewriting-from-inquiry-to-outline-to-scene-to-draft-with-author-maya-lassiter/

    You might also want to check out Rachel Aaron’s book 2,000 to 10,000 which is how she went from writing 2,000 words a day to 10,000 words a day by doing just a little outlining before writing a scene.

    Think about outlines as sketches. Sketches can be awesome tools.

  18. If I try to pants, I end up way far away from where I wanted to go. Thus, outlines. But even those are flexible, as long as I’m able to A) tell the readers what they need to know and B) move things along.

  19. I can pants a short story. That’s as far as I’ll take it. For me, ‘loose outlining’ similar to what you described feels best. I participate on and off over at Scribophile. One thing I *constantly* hear from the pantsters is they can never control length. It’s either 30k words and they’re done, or OH CRAP, I’m at 100K words and nothin’s freaking HAPPENED. There is no middle ground for pantsters. And oy, the plot holes. You can always tell a panster’s 1st draft.

    I treat an outline the way IDF treats a plan of battle. It’s nice to have because we all know where we’re going to end up. But have no doubt, it *will* change. Many times. I love Scrivener for this, btw. Nothing like drag and drop, change numbers if you title chapters manually, and you’re done. Need to add a connecting scene for a new idea? Yeah, drop that in too. Writing in an Office Suite is a nightmare for me now.:P

    So for what it’s worth, I’m an outliner. And I don’t buy for a second it ‘mandates’ you having to be non-creative. You don’t have to be spontaneous to think creatively.

  20. I started out as a discovery writer, and failed miserably at it. Then I discovered Orson Scott Card’s book on writing SF&F and I think that helped me more than anything I’d ever read before or since. My outlines are fairly light, I really just need the ending – I have to know where I’m going.
    Of course on my first novel my then girlfriend threatened me with serious mayhem if I didn’t change the ending.

  21. I would say having even a basic outline is a good help. This one story I’ve been working on for example with some pantsing led a character to be trapped on a floor of a building but I knew that later he needed to be on a different floor as part of the earlier story. From there I could look at it and go okay I am here and I need to get there, how would this character reasonably cover that distance.

    Also really familiar with the pain of having to go back and chop a big chunk that was written because it suddenly didn’t mesh right. Had that happen with another story I was working on where I got a few chapters in and then realized it just wasn’t working and I needed to change the protagonist to a female character among other things in order for it to fit right.

    On a side note. Anyone know how many words a novel is considered to be nowadays, or even a novella?

    • It depends on the genre, obviously, but SF/Fantasy tends to be between 80,000 and 100,000 roughly.

      Officially, the awards recognize it as being somewhere north of 40K IIRC.

      • Thanks Tom I was wondering what the standard was.

      • The only reason I could remember it was because it was a topic recently on one of the writing forums I frequent.

        Every genre is a bit different though, so if you step out of SFF, everything changes a bit.

      • Good to know and thanks for sharing. Though I currently don’t plan on stepping out of the SC/F department of things unless required for some academic homework in a college class.

        Maybe for horror but any horror I write will probably still fall into the SC/F area or thereabouts.

      • FWIW, I think horror is somewhere in the same neighborhood.

        Basically, if you write in the 100K range, you’re good with most non-kid genres.

  22. […] Ask Correia 16: Outlining vs Pantsing. I honestly find I’m better at it when I pants, than when I outline. […]

  23. The more I read your blog, Larry, the more I feel the itch to write. Think I’ll do some tonight. Thanks for the inspiration.

  24. I write by “signposts.” I pick 5 points (scenes) along the storyline that act as my guides as I write. These generally include the beginning, middle and end plus two other points in between. On the advice of a friend, on one of my projects I got caught up in the “super outline.” I spent the better part of a year fleshing out maps, trade routes, guild systems, character sheets for every major and minor person that the reader would ever see in the novel, backstory, history, economics of each duchy – I admit it was pretty BA and filled half a dozen notebooks, plus all the other sketches and maps. But when I went to actually start writing the story itself I could never get any further than the first chapter. The story had essentially already been written in my “super outline.” The notebooks are still sitting in my “to be completed later” pile. It didn’t work for me, so I went back to what did.

  25. I’m 100% pantser, and I’ve had people tell me “you can’t write that way.” They’re obviously full of themselves. I’ve tried outlining and it doesn’t work. Ever. At all. And skipping scenes? Can’t do that either. I have to just start typing and write straight through, then straighten out the kinks later. It works very well for me.

    For those who believe outlining is the only way, enjoy the dark side.

  26. I wrote my first book with a vague outline…only to end up with some serious edits necessary after the first draft which I could have squashed if I’d thought some key points through. I started my second book with a detailed outline…only to have the story die of asphyxiation. I suspect I’m going to be working somewhere in the middle. No outline survives contact with the story, but it can still be a useful reference point when things get weird. Maybe this is why John Irving always writes the last scene first.

  27. I’m glad to see Larry address this and I’m not surprised he uses outlines. I’m a horrible writer, but read the storyfix.com website regularly in hopes of improving as a storyteller. (warning, if you are a pantser, you will hate that website). I’ve been planning on deconstructing the Grimnoir and MHI books the next time I read them to see how close they are to the story physics benchmarks Larry Brooks believes in. Of course the action scenes in those 7 books are great, but for me, the pacing really stands out in how it moved my emotional attachment to the characters.

  28. Larry, you cis-fiction, outline-normative fascist you! 😉

  29. Thanks for this one, Larry.

    Echoing John Brown above, I read Rachel Aaron’s book 2K TO 10K, and while I haven’t written anywhere close to 10K in a day, I found her plotting/outlining method to be very helpful. At least the first few steps.

    I was able to outline my first novel (read: first novel outlined, not first novel written) and I’m not about 10K into it, and I have to say, I seem to prefer writing with an outline. A lot less self-doubt about what I’m doing.

    Of course, 10K into a novel is a lot different than being 80K in to a novel, so only time will tell.

  30. And ditto your remarks about Stephen King . Two of his more recent efforts spring to mind: DUMA KEY, of which I didn’t read the last 100 pages, and JOYLAND, which I absolutely loved until the “mystery” was solved.

  31. Larry, I just wanted to let people know that the eARC of Monster Hunter Nemesis is available for purchase.

    It’s looking very good so far. [Smile]

    http://www.baenebooks.com/p-2385-monster-hunter-nemesis-earc.aspx

  32. Thanks for sharing your advice. Very helpful.

  33. Larry,
    Is there any chance of getting some of your version one outlines posted? I think it would be fun to see how the books were ‘supposed’ to go versus how they eventually turned out.

  34. “At this point many writers declare “Writer’s Block” and expect people on Twitter to feel sorry for their muse of whatever artsy fartsy BS creative types make up to feel better about themselves, but we’ve talked about Writers Block and how it is bullshit on here before.”

    Mr Correia, were I not already an admirer of yours, I would as of this moment become a lifelong one, for saying these simple, manly, and true words. Yes, amen, halleluiah, hear, hear and I agree: Writer’s Block is for wimps.

    Writer’s Block is when you muse tells you it is time to throw out the last ten or fifty pages of what you wrote and try again along a different angle of attack, and you are too scared or lazy or in some other way a flaccid lump of pure wimp to listen to the muse, so she hangs up the phone in frustration.

    Writer’s block is artistic cowardice. Real writers don’t get blocked or don’t let the blocks block them.

    JCJW

  35. I read Kings “On Writing” and he states that he is a pantser and that the novels he has done an outline of (I think he said 4) were not successful.

    And I have never talked to anyone about King’s writing who didn’t agree that his novels always seem to have weak endings.

    I mean, “and then he drove up with a nuclear weapon that he had scrounged from a missile silo and blew up the bad guys by accident.”

    and

    “then the little kids had sex which skeezed out the evil, millions of year old, extra-dimensional alien so badly that it stopped killing people for a few years.”

  36. I’m pretty new to all this writing and blogging stuff, but not knowing what I’m doing has never stopped me before. My method of putting it all together is probably pretty strange. I don’t have a written outline but I have every major plot point and character development scene in my head. As a full time truck driver, I have very limited time to actually sit down and write. I do however have plenty of time to write in my head while driving. Here’s where the strange part comes in. While driving, I’ll focus on a particular scene and it plays itself out in my head like a movie. I see and hear my characters dialogue and actions. I play it over and over like a director directing multiple takes until it comes out right in my head. I mentally save it until my one physical writing day a week, where I finally type it all up.
    At that point it’s more like transcribing than actually writing. It may be weird, but it’s working for me!
    As an aside to Larry, thanks for the shoutout to the USS Cheyeene. I’m a former submariner myself so I appreciate any recognition of the Silent Service. Thanks!

  37. […] York Times bestselling author Larey Correia has an excellent post from a few months ago talking about the merits of planning out your story (outlining) versus diving right in […]

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