Let it Flow, Let it Flow, Let it Flow

Do you outline your novels? Do you write synopses of the chapters before you write them or make lists of pivotal scenes for each chapter?

Although most of the zillion books on writing that I have read insist that you must outline or in some way plan the course of your story, I don’t do it.

I like surprises, but only in books and in writing fiction. I like to go with the flow, wherever the story takes me, rather than drag the story to some predetermined finish line whether it wants to go there or not. Too heavy. Too much trouble.

Besides, I know me better than the authors of those how-to-write-well books do. If I write an outline, detailed or bare bones, or synopsize the book chapter by chapter, I will never write the darned thing. Once I’ve told the story in any fashion, it’s told. The fun has been had and the party is over.

That is also why I rarely tell anyone what my work-in-progress is about. I may talk about a troublesome scene or even chapter, but never the whole storyline. Partly because I don’t know the whole story myself, yet, and partly because, as I said, once the story is told, it’s told.

I have used Cyn Mobley’s go-to plot points system in her BAM: Book A Month ebook, but mostly for problem areas that have me stumped, like a pivotal scene that refuses to pivot. That is when planning comes in most handy for me. I stress that because your experiences may be (and often should be) wildly different.

For me, outlining and short chapter-by-chapter synopses were most helpful when working on a query letter to an agent or publisher. Since I’m deeply in love with indie publishing, the outline/synopsis helps most with writing blurbs.

I usually have a pretty good idea of the story I want to tell before I begin writing.  Nothing specific or concrete, just an idea that has germinated and begun to grow.  Memory’s Child was an exception – I not only had no plan for the plot, I didn’t know what was going to happen until it flowed out of my pen. I had no inkling that the story was there, lurking in my brain’s creative half. I wanted to write romances!

If outlining works for you, hooray. If it doesn’t, hooray. Forcing yourself in either direction will only make you miserable and the writing more difficult. Whatever it takes to help your writing flow more easily, do that, no matter what the how-to books say.

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2 responses to “Let it Flow, Let it Flow, Let it Flow

  1. Wow, I must say I am guilty of jotting down bullet points of what I want to write before I actually get down to it. I find it to be helpful in few situations because I write down all the possible scenarios in my head and when I look at them in paper I can finalize which one to go with.

    • Nah, not “guilty”! A lot of people find it helps them stay on track to have notes, etc. I do sometimes jot down notes to remind myself of snippets of scenery/conversation/characterization that I need to add to what’s already written or to include in what’s to come.
      The way you do it makes a lot of sense. I probably wrote a million words to get the 95K I wound up with in Dying to Meet You (unpublished). Not exactly the most efficient method, eh?

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