Saturday, May 15, 2010

To outline, or not ...

The other day on Facebook one of my writer friends posted a video clip of an interview by the paranormal author Sherrilyn Kenyon. Now I write picture books and occasional I give a shot at middle grade stuff. I'm not into young adult or adult novels that much, especially ones about vampires and spooky stuff. I'm such a wimp. But for whatever reason, and maybe it was Sherrilyn's eyeshadow, I was sucked into this video clip. She's a funny lady and seems like one of those people you'd just love to hang around with. One of her readers asked if she makes outlines. She replied with this ...

  1. "If I knew where it was going, it would be done. I wouldn't want to write it."
  2. "I write to figure out how it's gonna end."

Those two things really stood out for me. I used an outline with my first middle grade and it worked really well. Before I even wrote the story, I had an idea of what I wanted to happen from beginning to end. The outline guided me, but I later added to it. My second middle grade (the one I'm submitting now) I didn't write an outline. I started to, but when the writing actually began, it took off in its own direction. And because of that, the story completely changed from my original idea. That was fun. The one I'm working on now is totally different. I have an idea of what I want it to be about, but there's no way I can outline. It's just sort of -- happening.

Do you outline, or do you let your stories go their own way?

If you'd like to watch Sherrilyn's interview, click here. It's pretty interesting, even just to see her crazy eyeshadow. I'm not familiar with her, but she has like a gazillion books on the bestsellers list. I'm sure there's a story behind her green, sparkly eyeshadow too.


  1. Great post, I really enjoyed listening to Sherrilyn talking about her books.
    I plan. Global, book, chapter right down to the sections within the chapters. Then I write. If the improvements occur while I'm writing though I am happy to be flexible.

  2. I agree with Sherrilyn, especially the first point. The most outlining I do is notes scribbled in the margins about what might come next until I have at least half a draft. Then I MIGHT make a list of potential high points for the second half. Writing from a detailed plan would totally sap my desire to write the book. You might say my first draft is the outline.

  3. I do not outline.I kinda know what's going to happen in the story. But the details between the beginning and the end come out of my mind onto paper as i write it.

  4. I do a little of both. I try to create an outline before starting the actual novel, but the story always changes as it's written, sometimes quite dramatically. It's nice, but not essential, to have a kind of guideline, but it's never strictly adhered to.

  5. great post!

    i'm definitely not an outliner. i think occasionally i write things down just to remember a few key notes, but other than that, i just write as it comes.

    somehow, it's not too confusing :D


    thanks for sharing, and best of luck with everything!!

  6. My stories go their own way--I've never outlined anything!