How I use outlines.

I really don’t like outlines. I feel like they’re restrictive, and I’d rather just sit down and start writing, letting the ideas flow organically from my brain onto the page. Even for school papers, I’ve always written the outline (when we were required to turn one in) after I finished the paper itself. Outlines are just not my cup of tea.

Except, these days it seems like they are. Not that they’re very organized outlines, more like a long, hand-written list of plot (subject) points. But everything I’ve written in the past several months, from school papers, to Through Brass Goggles has begun with an outline. Sometimes, particularly with fiction, the outline comes after the first page or two. Mostly the school essays start with the outline first.

I haven’t made a conscious effort to do outlines. They just seem to spring up, and I have to start writing the plot points down so I won’t forget them. It comes in quite handy, really, since I usually get to the point where people have to start reforming, repenting, getting punished for their bad deeds, or triumphing over something (or I have to write a coherent concluding paragraph) and I realize I’ve got to wrap it up all pretty. Sometimes I have to rethink a plot-point (or six) or rearrange, which is certainly easier to do at the outlining stage, than it is after a complete first draft.

But all the same, I still don’t like outlines. I don’t really want to write them. But they seem to be working, and it’s hard to argue with something that works.


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