top of page
  • Writer's pictureJ.L. DuRona

There Is No Right Way to Outline!

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

Hello, Fellow Writer!

Do you consider yourself a "pantser," or a "plotter?"

If you don't know, a pantser is someone who writes without an outline. They fly by the seat of their pants, hence the name. A plotter, on the other hand, has a plan before they write. They start with everything they need to map out their story before they start: an outline, notes, landing lights, etc.

Personally, I'm a staunch believer in plotting. Planning your novel ahead of time has so many benefits: it cuts down on editing, maintains narrative focus, and makes you write faster. Plotting is like having a roadmap, while pantsing is a GPS that wants to drive you off a cliff (The GPS is your brain, by the way)!

So why do so many writers skip this step? I think it's plain old intimidation. The consensus is that outlines are scary, complicated, and the formula for creating one is guarded by Anubus!*

The thing is, though, there is no right way to make an outline, and the only way that matters is the one that works for you!

When I started my writing adventure, I was a pantser. The idea of creating an outline was too daunting for me. I have ADHD, which can make it hard for me to think about stuff "in order." How's a brain like mine supposed to create something that tells my entire story in order?

Spoiler alert: I wrote it out of order!

What do I mean by that? Well... the best way for me to explain is by going through my process!

1) First, I sit down and brainstorm a new idea (more on that in a future post).

2) Then I write down all the scenes I know I'll need for the book on notecards (inciting incident, final conflict, etc). They're very simple, with titles like "Bob fights bully," because I don't want to add too many details. I don't need every scene yet either, just enough to get started.

3) Once I have enough cards, I lay them out on a table and start shuffling them around like a puzzle. As I figure out the order, more scenes will come to me, so I'll add them to the pile. This part can take time, and that's okay! It's worth it to ensure that the story makes sense!

4) Now all the cards are in order, and I'm ready to start writing! There will, of course, be last-minute changes to the sequence as I write, but again that's okay!

You might've noticed that I said "scenes" instead of "chapters." It's less intimidating for me that way, plus I love movies!

I understand that my outlining process isn't for everyone, but that's the point! My goal is only to show you that there are many ways to outline. Maybe this will inspire you to create your own method. Experiment and find the way that works best for you!

'Till next time!

*"Why does the Egyptian god of the dead hold the secret to the perfect outline," you ask? Some questions are better left unanswered, I'm afraid.

20 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Hello, Once And Future Writers! Does it ever stress you out, the idea that every story's already been told? It's an old saying, and one that also happens to be true. There are thousands (heck, hundred

"'Bad' is not a style." A friend of mine said this to me once a long time ago. Originally, it was about drawing, but I've since adopted it as the backbone of my writing philosophy: Prioritize clarity.

bottom of page