Making An Outline, Writing Down Notes, or Going In Blind?

All throughout high school we are drilled through our English classes on how to write or type up an outline. Writing an outline when typing up a report or preparing a speech is a great way to get facts organized and get an A on your report. But how true is this fact when you want to write a novel?

To be fully honest, it’s not always the best way. My first series was done completely on a whim. The idea popped into my head, it sat there for years upon years, and then I decided to sit down an finally do it! In a way, you could say I took notes but I never actually wrote down these notes. I planned on everything I read just remaining in my mind. Ha! Like we could remember all the facts we gather for our novels. Lesson learned there. But that plan would work for someone ready to start writing right away. And it turns out holding onto my thoughts actually worked out for the most part. But there are plenty of ways on how to get your next novel done and I’ll discuss the ideas and give my opinions on them.

  • Making An Outline

I look online for “How to’s” for a lot of the things I do. Often times I’m taking on simple tasks by myself and may need a bit of motivation or some suggestions from others on the best way to get the job done. When I started writing I wanted some help with getting the story started. I looked to other authors to see how they got their books going. I think the biggest suggestion I read was to NOT make an outline for my writing. It made sense because if I stuck towards an outline then there isn’t much freedom. 

Let’s say I did make an outline for Curse Under The Moon. The outline might not have had Sally falling for Fenris (sorry, spoilers) and instead I chose for her to fall in love with Bento. Then I realized I didn’t like the couple and wanted her with Fenris instead. Then the entire outline I would have typed up with Sally falling for Bento would need to be addressed. But since I didn’t have an outline if I wanted to change things up it would have been an easy task. Outlines aren’t always the best way to write up a story on a hopeful whim.

I do think outlines are good for a story that needs planning. Novels that need planning would be mysteries, Sci-FI types, or novels with serious and important details. I think it would be much easier to type up an outline to follow so you know when and how you want the details and events to appear in the tale. Then as you’re writing you won’t forget to mention moments that are a major factor to how the story goes. It’s also a good way to prevent mentioning something more than once when it’s not needed.

Of course, each time I tried to type up an example of the best outline I had to erase it. I’m just not an outline type of writer, but I’m not the same as everyone out there. An outline could be an extremely helpful way for those who’s minds scatter easily and forget things a lot…kind of like me. Which is why my next novel I think I will attempt a general outline for my book. Since I want to write a mystery type then there will be a lot of points I can’t forget.  An outline is going to be a good way for me to figure out the best timing and order for things to happen in the novel.

  • Writing Down Notes

This method is a great way to get facts organized and sorted before you start typing up your story. It might be a good idea to scribble down information you gather while doing certain tasks. Of course, this would require keeping a notebook and pencil on one’s body at all times, but most people have cell phones and typing a quick note on the gadget shouldn’t be as big of a challenge, right? 

I’m about to write a murder mystery bit I’m stuck with how to make things happen. So I decide to watch an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigations. Then an event occurred that would work perfectly with my novel! I could open my phone and type up the details I think I should think about featuring in my novel. Then whenever the time comes to type the novel I would have my list of information gathered in my notes and I would know what could play into my tale. Of course, I would have to make sure the notes are written well enough for me to understand them later on and to not include fine details that could dust on the risk of copyright. Taking notes is more like gathering information for help on future pieces. But you need to make sure you don’t steal another person’s story word for word.

  • Going In Blind

This is probably my favorite way to write. I can’t put to words how exciting it is to be an author with no major guidelines to what I’m about to write. I love sitting at my computer and typing away until the tale is done. I write and write and write whatever happened to pop into my mind at the time. So far, it has always worked out and was an easy way to start. I would write up a chapter, read it over, edit as needed, and go on to the next chapter without needing to plan ahead. Well, not too much anyway.

With The Lyall Pack Series I didn’t have an outline or many notes to the tale’s story. Yes, I did a bit of research on witches and werewolves, but I didn’t write anything down. I simply learned what I could and held it in my head. It wasn’t a great way to get things done, to be honest. As it turned out, it worked for me and I managed to get a whole series out on a whim of an idea. It was really cool and made the job easy. Going into my novels without a serious outline to follow or major notes to keep in mind allowed me the freedom to write things how I wanted or change the story as it went. It was easier to be creative this way and I highly recommend authors to write this way rather than the other two methods listed above.

Those three ways are simple tasks for authors to get the job done and the discriptions are only my opinion. Someone else could have a lot more to say about each section while others may read what I’ve typed up and think “I never thought of that” and that’s the point. There are probably hundreds of facts with each section and tons of other ways than the three methods I wrote about in this post. All of this is only the things I have experienced. With Curse Under The Moon I did a bit of research which would fall under the note section but I didn’t actually write anything down. (If I did then I lost it a long time ago, Ha ha!) But as I continued the series I made sure I kept my first novel saved on my computer so I could go back and gather information as needed. This is also a factor that could play into the notes section. Most of the time I am more of a blind writer, but there’s a chance my next novel may need an outline so I can include all the details at the right time.

As an author I refuse to tell another author how to write their novels. Everyone is different and they need to use different methods to get their job done. I think an author should decide what is best for them and ignore the suggestions provided by others. Yes, even me. I’m a single person and it will not offend me in anyway if you read this post and simply laugh at what I wrote. Go ahead! And give me your opinions on what you think is the best way.

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