Over the years I’ve struggled getting started with writing anything longer than a short story or a couple of scenes. In one of the podcasts I listen to (Writing Excuses), they talk about two types of writers: Pantsers and Outliners
Pantsers are discovery writers. They have a vague idea of where they want the story to go and figure it out as they go along. Outliners are the opposite. They create a very-detailed outline of everything that’s going to happen from start to finish then fill in the little gaps with more words, causing the story to appear.
I’ve had a very hard time finding where I fit into that. I like being able to discover what happens as I write, but I like the idea of having the plot laid out for me. I’ve tried relying on either method and both have left me frustrated and discouraged.
Then one of the hosts (Dan Wells) mentioned in an episode that he falls somewhere in the middle. He creates a rough outline with the major points of what he wants the story to look like then discovery writes as he fills in the gaps of his outline. When he said that, it suddenly clicked for me that this ‘new writing style’ is what would work for me! It explains why I’ve been so frustrated with trying to write exclusively as either a Pantser or an Outliner. I’m a little bit of both!
I like to discover the story as I write, but I having a frame could provide the much-needed structure to my stories. This is probably why whenever I struggle writing an email I find myself plopping down the main points then elaborating on those points until I have a well-formed message.
So, with this new self-awareness, it’s time for me to go back to all those stories I started writing and build up a rough outline for them to give me some direction to discover what’s going to happen.