To Outline, or Not To Outline.

So. Here’s a little story of my (limited) experience with outlines and fiction writing.outline2

Here’s me, la-dee-da-dee da. I’m writing a novel! yay! But novels are big and scary and long and full of rat holes you can start down and get trapped in. So I say to myself, “Brianna, here’s the deal. Read you some plot books and then plan out your plot ahead of time! No wasted tangents or wild goose chases. Or rabbit trails! Or any other cliches, for that matter!”

So I does it. Doose it. Whatever.

I make a pretty little outline. It’s incredibly detailed. It tells me where I have to have my character happy, where she has to fail, where she has to face a cliff… Everthing! And then I start typing.

Type typetype type tyPE backspace type type type.

When the going gets tough, which is… like all the time, I even make mini outlines. Not only do I plan out the chapters, but I even sometimes make outlines for 800 words, telling myself what needs to happen in each 100 words. (Haven’t tried this? It’s very helpful.) And no, I don’t COMPLETELY hold to the outline, but it’s super handy.

BUT THEN. Oh then.

I finish that novel, (woo-hoo!) And awhile later, I start another one. This time I’m all pumped up! I can write a novel! That wasn’t that hard! Let’s do it again!

But this time, I’ve been reading this nonsense about not outlining. About silly things like “Seeing what the characters do.” And I think to myself… “Brianna, maybe that’s the more creative, artsy, REAL novelist way to do it!”


So this time, no outline. (Okay, there’s a little bit of an outline, I’m not THAT crazy.)

But really. Lots of times the outline is like: “They go on a bad date.”

And so then I’m writing,

type type type type

And I’m thinking, “Whoa! This is fun! These characters sure are… characters!” (haha, laugh.)

It’s like a little surprise, I don’t know what they’re going to do all the time!

Suddenly I understand all these quotes on pinterest for writers about being surprised by your writing and characters and things they say. I’m having this completely bohemian experience… It’s awesome!

type type type

But sometimes… It’s not. Sometimes I’m writing, and the characters are doing things and saying things that I think are stupid. Or boring. Or not related to the story I’m telling AT ALL. And sometimes I think, “THAT’S going to get deleted later.” But worse times… I think “Oh, no! This part is lovely! And it doesn’t fit this story at all…” *Cue Lucille Ball type crying.*

But I press on. I type and type and type and type, and then. I get. to THE END.

And do you know what I find?


My novel is a STINKING MESS!!! Seriously! All these scenes are WRONG or they’re right but in the wrong PLACE and I wasted all this time on these parts that have NOTHING to do with ANYTHING, only they were fun to write and now I have to do all this major OVERHAULING AND CRAZINESS!!!




I am completely, decidedly, one hundered percent on the Outline Team.

At least, I will be on the next novel. If there ever is a next novel. Because I’m going to be re-writing this one for like a billion years.

So what about you? Team Outline or Team Crazy?



  1. So, my first novel was not outlined. Well, maybe a little in my head. Okay, not really. I just had the beginning scene and the end scene and I was dancing along, trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B.

    It worked…. for the most part. But, of course, I’ve been working on the editing for about 5 years.

    So maybe that means it didn’t work at all.

    Now, my next novel, I have a series of mini scenes and I’m working from one to the next. That’s kind of like an outline, isn’t it? lol.

    Once I finish, I’ll let you know which I like best. 😉


  2. I am not an outline kind of gal. Outlines never worked for me even back many years ago when I was in school. I have five books on Amazon and I’m working on a fantasy right now, without an outline. My muse just won’t do anything else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So do you have to do a huge amount of content/plot editing? Or is your muse also extremely organized? 🙂


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