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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
And I have a lot of free time

I thought I was bored with the story, but I realize just hate outlines

Even though I have the story in my head, writing the details forces me to deal with potental holes in the story, because honestly the story is in my head. I don't want to turn this into a plotters vs pantsers debate, it's just that I am trying to become a professional self published author and at the slow rate I am going its not helping
 

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Outlining can become a technique for avoiding writing the book. It can also be a way to give in to writer's block.

Writer's block is very simple. "I'm worried people aren't going to like my story." That's it. It's an emotional reaction that makes you afraid, so you avoid the thing that's making you afraid. It's just an outline, so that's safe. But the book isn't safe, because people might not like it. So you avoid the book and put all your effort into the outline.

I'll solve it for you: people aren't going to like your book. That's a fact. You can't escape it no matter how good you are or how good the book is. That said, some people will like your book. Those are your readers. Those are the people you write the book for.

Write your story. Your readers want to read it.
 

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You'll fill those holes easier if you take your outline for the first chapter (as an example) and start writing the story. The characters will then be able to help you take the tale where it's meant to go. I have a whole series in my head, but because I never outline anything, I'm itching to get it down on paper. (or hard drive). I think I might actually outline it for the first time ever.

You won't get anywhere by tweaking an outline; you need get down to the meaty bits, even if you have to change them at a later date.
 

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Forget about the 'holes' in your story. Write it. You probably have enough of an outline to get the plot moving, and get the characters doing their thing. Once you're into the book, a lot of it writes itself.
 

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How far have you got with the outline?

At what level of detail have you outlined?

Are you outlining to a structure in term of plot and character progression?

Have you written a blurb?

Have you written a log line on one or two sentences that could describe your story?

Sometimes, those last two are all you need as an outline to know the story is viable.

I won't tell you to write it anyway. I've written stories with and without an outline. I've had the misfortune to have had to ditch stories at various stages using both methods.

Sometimes stories just don't work for various reasons.
 

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Shane Lochlann Black said:
Outlining can become a technique for avoiding writing the book. It can also be a way to give in to writer's block.

Writer's block is very simple.
Outlining can tell you if the story idea is a viable story. Writers block is not that simple. Sometimes a story just doesn't work and writing it or outlining can still end up at a dead end leaving you scratching your head trying to work it out. Usually outlining will get you to that point sooner rather than later.

Either method is sound.

All outlining does is get from A to Z in a structured form at various stages in the alphabet. Some can do it in their head, some can't.
 

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.

When you found plot holes in the outline ... imagine finding those in the finished first draft ... and then going back and rewriting half the book to fix them. In an outline you can move things around and change quite easily. Then start writing.

I had a section of outline I did earlier that I dropped into the story last night, only needed to add all the who said, quote tags, environment descriptions, and the scene was practically complete. Easy. And I didn't have to be concerned if the conversation beats would fit or not because I had previously vetted it against the rest of the story.

So don't give up on outlining itself. Recognize it's a tool to get you to the finish line with a better product.

.
 

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I agree with Doglover that it can often be helpful to take the outline as it stands and start writing ... sometimes the creative act of storytelling can help fill in those holes, and then you can plug them up in the outline itself. Everyone's method is different! I tend to write a very sketchy, very loose outline initially, write the first draft, figure out all the problems, then write a more detailed outline which I use to help me write the second draft. Or else write an outline of how I think the story is going to go, start writing the story, and then go back and change the outline when it becomes clear that the characters are taking over and the story is going to end up very different from what I had intended.

If the outlining is frustrating you, it doesn't make you any less of a professional to try a different method! Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what works for you, and sometimes what works changes from book to book. Hang in there! You'll figure it out.
 

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I am an anti-planner and am totally intimidated by outlines.

What works best for me is to write. I don't start from the beginning of the story. I start from the scene I have in my mind and that could be the ending/the middle or whatever.

All three of my novels have evolved dramatically from how I originally envisionned them once I started writing.

Mark
 

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I send my outlines for critique and ask for help in areas where I’d like suggestions for improvement. I send them only to people who don't write the same genre so I can be sure they’re safe. Idea theft is a thing.

You might benefit from sending your outline to someone for critique.
 

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outlines are a great way to procrastinate

without using outlines i've written 2 full-length novels in that time

you can't find holes in story from an outline, you find holes in story by deepdive
 

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jb1111 said:
Forget about the 'holes' in your story. Write it. You probably have enough of an outline to get the plot moving, and get the characters doing their thing. Once you're into the book, a lot of it writes itself.
I second to this, some things you can figure out only in the process.
 

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Shane Lochlann Black said:
Outlining can become a technique for avoiding writing the book. It can also be a way to give in to writer's block.

Writer's block is very simple. "I'm worried people aren't going to like my story." That's it. It's an emotional reaction that makes you afraid, so you avoid the thing that's making you afraid. It's just an outline, so that's safe. But the book isn't safe, because people might not like it. So you avoid the book and put all your effort into the outline.

I'll solve it for you: people aren't going to like your book. That's a fact. You can't escape it no matter how good you are or how good the book is. That said, some people will like your book. Those are your readers. Those are the people you write the book for.

Write your story. Your readers want to read it.
You're like a sage of wisdom, dude! :D

I used to not write outlines because the story was in my head, but what would happen to me is I would forget the story or parts. I would forget names, places, and events. Then I would get stuck. Now, I write an outline so I have the bones. It just helps keep me on track. I don't worry much about keeping to the outline, but it's my guide to the end.
 

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markpauloleksiw said:
All three of my novels have evolved dramatically from how I originally envisionned them once I started writing.
I made an outline. And have gone back and changed it twice when my story took a drastic turn. But I keep changing it and re-mapping the story. It doesn't take long and helps me get in the writing mindset.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Decon said:
How far have you got with the outline? 37.5%

At what level of detail have you outlined? I write a one sentence plot point summary and I am currently fleshing out the plot points using beats

Are you outlining to a structure in term of plot and character progression? Yes

Have you written a blurb? No

Have you written a log line on one or two sentences that could describe your story? Yes

Sometimes, those last two are all you need as an outline to know the story is viable.

I won't tell you to write it anyway. I've written stories with and without an outline. I've had the misfortune to have had to ditch stories at various stages using both methods.

Sometimes stories just don't work for various reasons.
 

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You could try writing a treatment (as a compromise between outline and just writing the book). Treatments are mostly used for screenplays, but they can work for books, too.
 

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How far have you got with the outline? 37.5%

At what level of detail have you outlined? I write a one sentence plot point summary and I am currently fleshing out the plot points using beats

Are you outlining to a structure in term of plot and character progression? Yes

Have you written a blurb? No

Have you written a log line on one or two sentences that could describe your story? Yes

Thanks for responding.

You say you have the story in your head, so I assume you have the ending. Maybe it would help to write a blurb as the next step for motivation to know the story has legs for the genre.

You're quite a way in to the outline. At 37% you will have the MC in their ordinary life showing what they want, leading to the inciting incident outside their control that presents a problem at say 10%. You will have past the 25% point of the 1st act and now you're heading toward the mid-point, or the point at which the character will start the fight back or realization for what they will need to do to get to a resolution. What you have should be enough to start writing, which should prompt you to be able to go back to the outline as you progress, or not as the case might be. Outlines are not painting by numbers and are not set in stone. If you start writing with what you have, your creativity will take the direction the story needs to go.

Good luck.
 

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An outline is a tool, if you're that way inclined. An outline should never, never, never become a goal to achieve or a measuring stick. If the outline is in your head, then there you go: there is your outline. Leave it in your head and start the actual writing. You'll find your plot holes by doing, not by thinking about doing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Patty Jansen said:
An outline is a tool, if you're that way inclined. An outline should never, never, never become a goal to achieve or a measuring stick. If the outline is in your head, then there you go: there is your outline. Leave it in your head and start the actual writing. You'll find your plot holes by doing, not by thinking about doing.
I have been thinking about my past writing with outlines and I am going to take your advice and start writing because in the past that has helped me
 

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marissa_lopez said:
I have been thinking about my past writing with outlines and I am going to take your advice and start writing because in the past that has helped me
What you want to know is where you're going in the big picture. If your "outline" is just the 3 (approximately) big turning points in the story then ones that transition between Setup/Beginning, Middle, and Climax/End, then you should have enough direction to not get stuck. You'll always be working toward the next major point in the story and that should help prevent getting stuck.
 
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