Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A plug for outlining...if I can get the hang of it.

Hi everyone! Sorry for the late post. Today I'm actually reposting a post written by Teralyn Rose Pilgrim a while ago. I really appreciated it then, so I am sharing with all of you. Take it away Teralyn!

Why Outlining is soooo Awesome

I’ve said before that I hate to brag. I still do, though it’s a lot easier when all my dear readers congratulate me. Regardless of how special you all make me feel, I try to only demonstrate my awesomeness when it’s useful to my readers. Ergo, even though this is going to sound conceited, there is a point. I promise.

On November 1 from midnight to midnight the next day, I wrote 10,000 words.

I started to wonder how high my word count was when my fingers started to hurt at 6,500 words. After that, I kept typing and thinking to myself, “Holy cow, am I really still writing? Do I still have stuff to say?” I basically stared in amazement at my furiously typing fingers.

How on earth did I go from taking five years to write Sacred Fire to writing 10,000 words in one day?

Here is the point:

I came up with the idea for Fierce ten months ago and have been stewing on it ever since. Two months ago, I started to prep for the book. At one point it got boring and I started to wonder if writing 18,000 words of notes would be worth my time.

Totally worth it.

I’ve never had an outline so thorough, and I’ve never typed faster in my life. Some books don't lend themselves to this pace, and some authors just have a different style. That's okay. However, if you can do the prep work I talked about in my How to Prepare for a Novel series, I highly recommend giving it a try. I’m going to do this from now on.

Here's a more important point:

Last year, I struggled to get in my 50,000 words. I ended up writing almost exactly the right amount, and getting in those last words felt like wringing out a rag.

I would look at people on the Nano forums who had 100,000 words and wonder how it was even possible, and then feel like trash. It was silly; as if writing 50k in a month is such a failure!

If you write at all, you're doing something amazing. If you even attempt Nano, it will help your writing. If you win, you will have achieved a great feat that a hundred thousand writers lust after and only a third of them reach. If you feel you're able to push yourself harder...

...go for it.


  1. Now this is a GREAT story! I just love those writing days! Congrats Teralyn sounds like you've found your inspiration! YAY!

    Sorry I haven't been by in awhile Reece-- surviving these days. Hope is all is well in your world.

  2. Great post :) I will say I do tend to write more if I have outlined at least a little. But I find outlines a little constrictive. I think I would waste 18,000 words on an detailed outline, because I start writing and my characters always take me in unplanned directions.

  3. love outlines, but mine are hardly detailed. more like 2-3 phrases per 2-3 chapters. gotta leave room for the crazy trouble my characters stray into!

  4. This is great, because I'm doing NaNo to help me write more. I've fallen behind, but I'm still writing. Thanks for your post Reece!

  5. Great post. I think outlining is really important. My work has improved since doing that and I wouldn't go back now.

  6. Yup, outlining is definitely amazing. I didn't outline for my NaNo novel (on purpose), and it's funny how I can tell how weak the story is without it. Not that I'm saying all pantsed novels are weak-- I just personally love that outline for all the structure it gives me ahead of time!

  7. Congrats on writing so many words in one day! That is AWESOME! I'm still not an outliner. :P But I'll try someday. :)

  8. Oh Chantele! Your comments make me laugh sometimes. I love it!

  9. This is such an awesome post, Reece! Thanks for sharing and congrats on that amazing leap forward in your WIP. I'm starting on two new ideas myself, and I've also been getting SO much value out of outlining. Last weekend, I sketched out the whole world system for a space opera. I'm hoping it pays off like yours has.

    Also, this cracked me up: I try to only demonstrate my awesomeness when it’s useful to my readers.

    I think you have carte blance to share your awesomeness!!