Outlining: Benefits and Banes
One of the big questions that go around writing communities as a sort of ice-breaker is are you a planner or a pantser? It’s a fun little game that tells people about their peers, but to an outsider, those are empty words. So let’s start by defining them.
A planner is someone who outlines and gets all their facts straight before they start writing. A pantser just goes until they either write themselves into a corner or they run out of creative gas. I am one of these and fix everything in rewrites. Both of these have their merits and should be considered a legitimate way of writing. There is no wrong way to start your story. So let’s look at some benefits of outlining and being a planner because maybe I’ll actually start doing it.
You’ll Write Faster
In theory, if you have a plan, you’ll run into fewer blocks because you’ll have already solved them. Outlining also lets you set up plans so that you don’t have to do as much work while editing. It can also improve focus and your writing is less likely to derail itself. (I found an entire chapter on grain an alcohol production in a minor province in my novel.) Outlining streamlines a lot of the processes that you will run into while writing sci-fi and fantasy. Why is there dragons? Where do the guns get their lasers?
It Gives You a Clear Goal
Writing is daunting. Novels are a huge commitment and they seem to go on forever without any end in sight. Outlining gives you that finishing line, that end goal so you know when to stop and of course, you can go past that, but it’s probably good to have that line.
There are other benefits, such as a more thoughtful analysis of what you are writing, more in-depth glances at characters and the excuse to make excessive mood boards but as I stated earlier, there is no way to write a book that is universal. Do what makes you comfortable?
What about you guys? Are you planners or pantsers and how does outlining (or not) help you? Leave a comment below!