unanswered questions - brainstorming concept

Previously I did a post regarding writing rules and I mentioned they were not my friends. Let me introduce you to the one that drives me the most crazy, the one I’ve had to part ways with if I want to remain a partially sane writer–the outline.

Now, there are many, many writers who swear by this medival torture device, but you won’t find me joining in. I started my writing career as a pantser, someone who writes by the seat of their pants. By the third book of the Kyn (Shadow’s Moon) I realized I’d need a map of sorts to keep my world structure stable. I decided to outline.

Um yeah, that worked…kind of. I could give myself some help direction wise, as long as I have the major story points identified, I’m good. But if I take it deeper and begin to outline chapter by chapter I found I’d write myself into dead ends and get frustrated.

I can hear you all now, why? Outlines should help your story just roll along.

*shakes head sadly* Not for me, unfortunately. Instead of helping me, an outline tends to kill those unexpected creative sparks that send my characters in a direction I never expected, or my story down roads I didn’t even know existed. For some odd reason, if I plot out the major player moves, I become bored. And let’s be honest, if the writer is bored, the reader isn’t even going to get through page 2.

Instead I focus on my characters and what’s motivating them. I need to know, why these characters, why their story now? What is going on in their lives right now that makes their story the one I have to write? An outline won’t help me with that.

In quiet desperation I’ve had to go back and admit I must stay a pantser. So now working on the second PSY-IV Team book, I’ve nixed the outline I had all pretty and ordered from early last year and just started where it works for me–with a general idea of my characters and what challenges they’ll face.

Freed from the restrictions of a pre-determined outline, now my story can take me to the unexpected places, the ones where a truly intriguing story is born.

For those asking what my post’s point is, it’s this–if you’re a writer, don’t feel like you have to follow a rule that doesn’t work for you. We have tons of rules to pick from. Pick the ones that work, disregard the rest. Part of what makes creativity work is the ability to forget the rules and follow that spark to see where it takes not just you, but your audience as well.

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