Friday, February 08, 2008

To Outline or Not to Outline

You know the questions -- Do you outline your manuscripts or not? Do you know what's going to happen to your protagonist or do you want to be totally surprised as you write? Do your characters do as you tell them or do they take over and do as they will?

Some writers do one or the other. Some teeter in the middle ground, saying they outline and know where the story is going, but sometimes characters take over and do things they (the writers) didn't expect.

Best-selling author, Steve Berry, to my way of thinking, is one of those middle ground authors. In a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article, he says,
"If you outline it all out, it becomes mechanical. It's like watching the same TV show over and over. You already know what's going to happen. It ain't fun."

But, on the other hand, he doesn't just let characters run willy-nilly over the plot. He's ready for contingencies.
"You've got to be prepared to write yourself out....When I'm writing a book, I know everything about that story."

Before he sits down to write, he researches, he prepares for whatever might happen.

So, although he doesn't outline before starting to write, he also doesn't let himself be totally surprised, despite what he said. He has done enough research that no matter what his characters do or where the story turns, he's ready to work his way to the end.


  1. Hi Helen from all at GO! Smell the flowers,

    We welcome new talent commenting at the blogs and would gladly promote your site as we get to know each other.

    We've a few writers amongst us founders and it's great to get these writing topics going...

    Keep it up and you're most welcome at flowers anytime,

    Cheers and Group Hugs,

    GO! Smell the flowers

  2. Why, thanks to all of you at Go! Smell the flowers. I plan on stopping by again.


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