Writing Process and Outlines

Over the weekend, I finished the first draft of my manuscript. It pleases me to say that I achieved my goal of finishing it before I turned 18.

After writing four books, I have learned what to expect in every stage of my writing. Everyone has their own process when working on a project– and mine is scatterbrained, to put it nicely. I have spoken with people who cannot touch the keyboard until they have outlined their entire story. Others write purely on inspiration. As usual, I can’t bring myself to take a side on this issue. Outlines serve their purpose, but I never know exactly where a story is going until I actually type he words out. My characters take on minds of their own, and they often don’t want to do the things I had planned for them. This may seem strange, and I suppose it is, but that’s how my stories have worked.

I may not be entirely consistent in writing outlines, but in the books I have worked on, many stages of development have emerged. My method of writing is on the fence between chaotic, unorganized flow of text and structured, impersonal dribble.

  1. Get a vague idea for a character or a scenario that I want to build upon
  2. Develop the characters in my mind– get to know them and decide what the setting & plot will be like (this stage lasts over a week. There are some story ideas I have been developing in my mind for a couple of years without writing a thing)
  3. Sit down and force myself to write the first chapter. Every word is agonizing.
  4. Try to hold myself back. Once I finish the first chapter, I cannot stop typing. My ideas go wild until I’m halfway through the book
  5. Writer’s block kicks in. I grow irritated with my characters and wonder why I started the book in the first place
  6. Grab a pencil and make an outline that will guide me to the end of the story
  7. Become inspired again. Stay up several nights typing until it is finished
  8. Print manuscript and edit

This pattern has proved true for every story I’ve written. Sometimes there are some extra detours. In my latest project, for example, I spent days re-writing a section of my story between steps 6 & 7. This could have been prevented if I had outlined my story beforehand, but even after writing four books, I must write myself into a corner before considering an outline.

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