Why I hate outlines

On Monday, during my #writerrecharge post, I mentioned that I hate outlines. Well, I don’t hate outlines really. I hate making them. LOL. Yes, that is splitting hairs, but in truth, I am what Brandon Sanderson calls a “discovery writer”.

There are several types of writers, per BS, by the way and I am going to look at them here.

A discovery writer, who only has a general idea of what the story is about, a handfull of characters, and a setting–who sets off on this writing journey chronicling the trip as they go. He says in his most recent workshop that Mary Robinette K. his Writing Excuses co-host calls this the “Yes, but-no, and” type of writing. (ex.-What happens next? Does it work? yes, but something else goes wrong. Do they fix it? No, and something else goes wrong.)

This sort of writing is filled with conflict and possibilities. And in my opinion lends to a longer work because you have to have time to follow all the trying and failing and trying again efforts of the characters. Not to say it cannnot be done in a short story, and I have used it myself, but to me, a longer work just flows from this.

About the other, an outliner–is one who puts all the bones of the story into an outline and elaborates on each point. They build a frame for the story and add in the necessary ingredients for making it all work. (I am a little light on outliners because I am not a good one!)

Now BS also says that there are hybrid writers who are a good mix of the two. Now I truly think I fit into this method. He calls it “points on a map” writing. You sort of outline where the story is heading by knowing when and where in the story certain things will happen and then discovery write to that point.

I have to say, to me, this is a great way to write. I mean, you get the best of both worlds! So, this post turned into a types of writer sort of post instead of why I hate outlines but that’s okay. Why don’t you leave a comment and tell me which kind of writer YOU are.

About master

Kim Smith is the author of Disk of Death, The Dread Room, Love Inn, and An Unexpected Performance.

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