To Heck With Outlining — For Now
As I’ve mentioned, I’m a bit of a pantster, meaning I usually have a rough idea of the plot when I start writing, but rather than planning everything out, I fly by the seat of my pants. This can be good for spontaneity. Not too great for keeping everything in line. To make matters worse, I’ll sometimes skip a chapter or merely write a quick summary and move on to the next scene. Oftentimes, the plot is disjointed. I’ll linger too long in one spot and only touch the surface of another. I’ll write the same basic scene more than once.
And I’ll realize—I should have written that outline.
It’s not too late. Even though the novel is done, outlining can help. The process can let you see the big picture and identify where the plot has gone awry. Outlining can show where the tension has evaporated and where there’s too much going on.
I’m going through this process with a book I’d shelved. It has been critiqued and much of the feedback incorporated, but I still feel it’s not quite ready for the world to see. So I’m summarizing each chapter with a few short sentences and looking for those low points and high points. I’m still not sure if I’ll keep working on this manuscript or start a new project, but it’s helping me flush out some of the issues, to figure out where the plot is lagging, identifying those chapters that can be cut and those that might be missing.
So, even if you’re finished with your novel, consider outlining. There’s no reason why it can’t be done after the fact.
Tell me in the comments section: Do you outline, and when.