What is the best way to write that book?

Writing with an outline, by pantsing or somewhere between.

Where do you fall?

Everyone has an opinion, but there is no right or wrong solution, just the right one for you.

I spent most of this year studying various outlining styles, trying to find one that fits my style. What did I learn in the last six months?

What did I learn in the last six months about outlining?

  • There is a multitude of ways to outline.
  • An outline can be fluid.
  • You can choose to write without one.
  • Outlining can suck the life out of a story even before you start writing.
  • Or can be a road map to the end.
  • Scrivener is still a writer’s number one go to for outlining.
  • There is no right or wrong way.

I also learned…

  • I’m a panster. Stick with what you know is a good thing.
  • But I can outline a “little bit” as I go.
  • When I get stuck, stop, do a little micro-plotting.
  • Outlining is not for everyone.

But now what? After all of these months of research? Where am I?

At the bottom of a pit with a bunch of crap! That’s where. My WIP is barely recognizable as I’ve attempted to organize it in one after another of these different outlines.

Ouch!  Ibuprophen has done little to alleviate the writer’s block headache.


Now it’s time to get back in the saddle and make writing fun again. To hell with outlining. No offense to those who find it fun. But I gotta be me. LOL

For more about Outlining and Pantsing – Keep reading. I’ve listed lots of great articles for you.

Let me know, which are you? Pantster or Outliner?

Do you find Outlining a chore or fun?

Do you outline all of your stories? Even the short ones?

Do you have a favorite outlining style or program?

How To Write By The Seat of Your Pants by RUTH ANN NORDIN

How to Outline a Novel (Even If You’re Not an Outliner) by Jerry Jenkins


7 Steps to Creating a Flexible Outline for Any Story Writers Digest

3 More Outlining Methods That Help Your Novel Along by Rachel Poli

Writing by the Seat of Your Pants by  Carolyn Kaufman | @CMKaufman 

 Waiting for your comments, please leave me one. 

And don’t forget to go over and “like” my Facebook page at Facebook at jeanswriting . Or to connect with me, click the “write me” tab. Don’t forget you can follow me on StumbleUpon,  on Twitter @jeancogdell , and Amazon.com.

Please stop by and say “hey!”  I’ll leave a light on. 


37 thoughts on “What is the best way to write that book?

  1. I outline, but not extensively. Basically, I come up with a thousand word synopsis and submit it online for peer review before I write. That way I’m confident the story is sound. But I don’t line up scenes with color-coded cards. That level of organization is stifling for me. So I guess I’d say I’m a hybrid between pantsing and plotting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, a total pantser here signing in. I can say it best with a quote from someone noted. “I don’t know what I think until I read what I’ve said.” Alas, this is credited to both E.M. Forster and Flannery O’Connor and perhaps others? All I do know is the first time I saw the quote it fit so well and made complete sense.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Caught this off Chris and his ape reading stories blog. Pantser, I only discovered that word when I did NaNoMoWri last year. Did a few courses that kept saying do this or that, often outlining and story boarding and…OK, yawn. I’m sure it works for some people, but definitely not me. Never has and trying it just killed my wordcraft…something my own self doubt and esteem requires no further assistance with!

    I write from, generally from a short story concept. Write something and if it’s going to work then I find it tells me quite quickly. Best way I can relate this is to say I write like a reader. Don’t know what’s on the next page until I write it. I also feel like a biographer as my characters more or less dictate things (the schizoid mind?). Maybe it is outlining in the mind, a sort of mind palace where the novel is acted out and from which it gets put into words. Might be some subconscious stuff going on too…start, middle and end seem to automate, as do sub plots and story arc. Might be I did take heed of said courses after all!

    And here’s me rambling away as if I’ve been following your blog for ages, which I haven’t. How very rude is that?

    Great post and am now off to fix this not following you thing post haste 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not rude at all Gary. I’m so glad you found me. Love your rambling, I mean stream of consciousness. It’s very encouraging to find another like minded writer. So stop by any time, I’ll leave a light on. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I like that! Might use it….stream of consciousness…I have several of those I think. Never knew until I started writing and then boom…these streams opened up with characters. Very disturbing….in another time that would be deity talking or demons and there would be nods towards a ducking stool and bonfires! Like minded writers are essential to sanity and mojo….I believe King says that in On Writing; who am I to argue with him 🙃

        Liked by 1 person

  4. You have to do what’s right for you but I don’t use them. That’s not to say that I will never use an outline but I haven’t had the need for one. I have the beginning of the story in my mind’s eye and a rough idea of how it will end. I can see the main characters as well so well. Then I just fill in the blanks with research when needed and everything else.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s how I’ve written my stories in the past but lately I thought I should try and use an outline. Guess that’s where I went wrong, thinking. LOL Really messed me up. Well, as they say, “Live and Learn.” Thanks for the pep talk. I’m back to pantsing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m definitely more panster. I do very little plotting before hand. The one time I did chapter outline was the first and only time I had writer’s block. Normally, I start writing with an idea. Once I get about 3 chapters done, I write a short synopsis of the story I want to write. I write more on the book and then if I keep forgetting hair and eye colors and other characteristic, I’ll either do a character casting using photos of actors and actresses (that I may add to as I go) or I’ll make some character notes. I don’t do a lot of research before I start either. I may research a location before, but that’s about it. While writing, I mark places where I need to look up stuff. About the second edit (sometimes the first), I’ll do the research.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m so glad it’s not just me. Planning too much in advance sucked the life out of both me and the book. I even tried writing 30,000 words, stepping back and trying to apply an outline to what I’d done to see where the “gaps” were, but … Nope. So I’m just going to write what I want, when I want and when it pleases me, it’s done.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. You go girl! I’m back on the pantsing train myself. By the time I finished all of the outlines and plot lines and character sketches I didn’t want to see the damn story. Know exactly how you feel. LOL

            Liked by 2 people

  6. Great topic! You definitely have tapped into a recent trend. Why? Anyone who is serious about our profession, needs to continue learning about the craft of writing. One trending topic is Outlining. It is also something I’m taking a closer scrutiny. Outlining, for me, is more of a fluid organizing feature than a fixed blueprint. I use a graphic organizer (dipping into my life as a teacher) to help me mold my plot line. It incorporates ideas I’ve picked up from my own independent study on the craft of writing. This tool helps me to crystallize my thinking with regard to my plot. It allows me to go deeper in developing my character, sequencing, and movement of the plot.

    I think your post really “nails it.” Each one of us as to find something that works for us. It really ends up with the application and synthesis of what we’ve learned. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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