One of the people who asked me about whether or not I outline before beginning a project was worried about outlining and other organizational tasks. Apparently, she had all but given up on writing because someone convinced her that she has to outline and more. She met this person at a conference. He pulled out a series of charts and tables to show her how he had worked up his character, laid out his world, etc., all before he put a word of the story down in yet another file.
“Do you do that?”
Uh. No. Sometimes I have that much by the time that I’m done drafting a piece. Certainly by the end of my first really good rewrite. But before I start? Nope.
Anal as I am, I’m a fairly intuitive writer. I like to play with things. See what happens if you reverse a situation. Throw a character into a tough spot. If I tried to get that much back-story down before I even started, I’d never get anywhere. I’d give up.
I can see the point of plotting things out to the letter if you are writing a mystery. You need to make sure that your clues come into the story in a particular order. You need to know who is where when. And who isn’t in plain sight when the crime is committed. But I’ve never written a mystery that was longer than an early reader so I didn’t have to do this. I probably could if I needed to, but . . . let’s be honest. I’m fairly happy it has never been an issue.
I’m sure that some writers need to have that safety net in place before they start. Who’s here? What are they doing? And where are they doing it? For me, half the fun is poking around. The thrill of discovery. Like peeking into all the corners, closets and drawers in a new house. Or, new to me anyway.
Get it all down before hand or work it out as you go. How you chose to do it depends completely on what works best for you. Don’t let how someone else does it bring you to a halt. Take their suggestions if they fit. If they don’t, look for something else that will actually work for you. You’ll find what works and then you can pass it on to a writer-buddy who is stuck. Maybe it will be the key for that writer too.