Writing Tips: The Pros & Cons of Writing Without An Outline

All of you writers out there know that to outline? or not to outline? is a debate that is practically as old as time.  There are two camps.  There are the people that like to plot their stories out ahead of time.  And there are the people that like to fly by the seat of their pants and just write whatever comes to mind, making it up as they go.

I would like to say that I always know what I'm going to write ahead of time, but that's just not true.  I always start outlining my novels ahead of time with the best of intentions but then I get excited and veer from the path and soon enough I've written 15k words of my story and I just want to keep going.

I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  Right now I would say that I'm pretty neutral.  But here are some of the things I've noticed about writing without an outline.

The Pros:
  • Whenever I write without an outline, I feel free.  I feel like anything can (and will) happen in my story.  And that's a pretty cool feeling.
  • My characters become funnier.  The conversations between them become longer and the dialogue is snappier and more humorous.  I'm not sure why that is.
  • If I come up with a new idea on the spot, it is easier to write into the story because I don't have a set path that I'm following.

The Cons:
  • Writing without an outline can be freeing, but it can also be confusing.  My stories have a tendency to ramble on when I'm not following an outline.
  • While the dialogue between my characters becomes funnier, it also has less of a point.  I read once that every scene in your book should have a point in moving forward the story.  And when I don't outline, that becomes less true for me.
  • Less writer's block!  When you have the story planned out ahead of time, the writing becomes easier.

How do you feel about outlining?  Are you a plotter or a pantser?  Let me know in the comments!

Take care,

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