Writing Without An Outline

A Rant and Explanation

booksI hate it when someone tells me I should be writing a certain way. I don’t like people telling me how to do my crafting. Or for them to presume that they’re right and I’m wrong. What works for me may not work for you, but that certainly doesn’t make it wrong.

I’m not a writer that can work from an outline. I get bored easily. I HAVE to write without that net because if I end up knowing too much of the story, the writing of it bores me to no end. I feel like I’m repeating myself. I’ve condense all the fun exploration into little sentences that I feel I must follow.

Before I can get into the writing of my mss, I have to do a few things first. I have to know what the goal of my MC is, I have to have a fairly good idea of what kind of person he/she is, and I have to have a vague idea of how things are going to end. I NEVER write these things down, I just keep them in mind as I write.

From this, I build my first major draft. I say major draft because, I’ve probably attempted a beginning several times. Each time I make the attempt, I learn a bit more about how things might progress and more about the characters. Eventually, I push myself with the goal of one month to finish the very first full draft of my mss. I print it out, look it over and box it away for awhile.

This is when I go through my procrastination period. I’m sick of the story and try writing other things, but that never works. It seems to be a ritual of mine, I have no idea why, but it is what it is.

During this time of procrastination, I’ve thought up some other wonderful ideas for the mss. When I read the first draft, I’m pretty horrified by the results. Much of the logic is lacking and some of the character should be stronger, or have more reasons for doing what they’re doing. So I ponder the plot bunnies that are flying through my head and begin to see a better story.

After many false starts I eventually start the story again. Everything by this point needs to be changed, everything except for the concept of the ending and a few critical scenes. Sometimes the MC needs an overhaul, but the story is a different take on the original. I give myself the challenge of doing the entire draft in one month. Nine times out of ten, I make that goal.

The second time around is much better, but there’s still things I’d like to explore. Again I got through the ridiculous ritual of procrastination before forcing myself to write it all again from scratch.

This time I have certain scenes in mind, certain plots lines that can’t be left out. I explored them all with gusto, letting myself consider and condense parts from the previous two drafts. I look at other characters, other possible ways to show the necessary things needed to move the story along. It’s all the same story, but now its a story with different scenes showing different things but still accomplishing the same goal.

Now I’ve written the 3rd draft. I like what I see, but I like some of the scenes from the previous two drafts better. This is where I break out an outline.

I have everything written, its just a matter of putting all the pieces together into one harmonious work. This is the hardest part. Writing the drafts wasn’t hard, the ending wasn’t hard, the procrastination wasn’t hard (just annoying), the hardest part is putting it all together.

And that is how I write without an outline.


Do you write with an outline? If you do, what keeps the story fresh for you? If you don’t write from an outline, what is your process and what works best for you?

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