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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
People often ask me how I write so fast. I honestly believe it's because I outline. Now, I don't always follow my outlines. If I get into it and get a better idea I have no problem changing it. My outlines don't even flesh everything out. They're more like pacing beats and tidbits. It does help me to keep track of my story. Thanks to outlines I've finished four novels and two 25,000-word shorts since the beginning of January. I will finish another full WIP by Sunday. I didn't write today because I had to listen to and approve an audio book. When I was done, though, I put together five outlines. Yes. Five. I did three in one series and two in another. My hand hurts because I outline in notebooks by hand. It's because of outlines, though, that I will finish one book this week and start another next week. I honestly don't know how pantsers do it, but I give them a lot of credit. I would be lost without my outlines.
 

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Yes, to all of this.  If I sit down and actually take the time to write out a good outline, which may take a few days, I can get through a full novella in about 2-3 days.  All told, it may take about a week to finish the first draft, from conception to getting the last word out.  Which, by contrast, often spans into eternity if I just make it up as I go along.
 

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I always pants, because writing an outline seems crazy hard. How can you know what's going to happen before it happens?

But can you post an image of yours? Or describe how you do it in detail. Maybe I've been doing it wrong.
 

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funthebear said:
I always pants, because writing an outline seems crazy hard. How can you know what's going to happen before it happens?

But can you post an image of yours? Or describe how you do it in detail. Maybe I've been doing it wrong.
That's what an outline does. Is it tells you what's going to happen.

How I do it is I have a book in which I keep all of my rough ideas. When I'm ready to plot something out, I write down everything I can think of; characters, places, things I want to happen, dialogue bits that have popped into my head. No detail is too small or too stupid. I also write down every possibility I can think of for how the story will go. Maybe they'll do this, or maybe this will happen. Eventually, as I do this, the details of the story begin to pop up. By the second or third page, the notes begin to get more coherent, and I start writing them down more or less in order.

Once it feels like there's a full story there, I write down each individual beat on notecards. This happens, then this happens, then this, then this. It's very precise, but also very vague. I don't describe the scene; just the key details. Characters that get introduced, decisions that affect the next line in the sequence. Each card winds up accounting for anywhere from 500-1000 words. Sometimes, I'll stray a bit, but if I stray too far, I always start over to make sure I don't meander.
 

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I "panst" the way you outline. Sit down at the keboard, tell the character to tell their story and start typing as they tell me. I don't get as many done, but I have many other things I do that matter to me besides writing. If I outlined I'd get less books out. DIfferent personalities and tendencies, I think. Total right brain here.

Since fall: 2 novels, 12 short stories.
 

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Four novels and two 25,000 word pieces?

At the risk of pissing you off - are these books any good?

I mean I understand that trad pub companies can hold the author up and that he/she should be able to produce more than one novel a year, but really..... Four in three months?

Writing is supposed to be a somewhat slow process, not where you just churn out stuff like a monkey at a keyboard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If include the fall that would be another six novels. My beats aren't as long as ML's. I have nice lined notebooks, one for each series, and I basically write down the chapter name and a couple sentences that happen in that chapter. Then I move on to the next chapter, and the next, and so on. This is how I support myself now, so I have to focus on writing. I also happen to enjoy it. Writing outlines makes me excited to write the book. Unfortunately for me, I won't start anything I did today for months. I have a strict writing schedule through June that will add another two shorts and three novels to my desktop. I work ahead for my pen name, so that stuff won't even be published until the fall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
NothingsShocking said:
Four novels and two 25,000 word pieces?

At the risk of p*ss ing you off - are these books any good?

I mean I understand that trad pub companies can hold the author up and that he/she should be able to produce more than one novel a year, but really..... Four in three months?

Writing is supposed to be a somewhat slow process, not where you just churn out stuff like a monkey at a keyboard.
No. I like to put out crap.
 

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NothingsShocking said:
Four novels and two 25,000 word pieces?

At the risk of p*ss ing you off - are these books any good?

I mean I understand that trad pub companies can hold the author up and that he/she should be able to produce more than one novel a year, but really..... Four in three months?

Writing is supposed to be a somewhat slow process, not where you just churn out stuff like a monkey at a keyboard.
I kind of disagree with you that writing is supposed to be any type of specific process? Writing is as individual as the people who write. Right now I manage a novel every month and a half to two months. The only reason it's not faster is because I write more than one thing at a time and I have a full-time job. Yoda writes full-time and is making far more than a living from it, from my understanding. I think it's kind of BS to say that writing is 'supposed' to be anything. It's disparaging to those who can write that fast. -shrug-

I don't outline. I find them stifling and more anxiety-ridden than they're worth. I simply, as a writer, can't cope with outlines before the story is written. I am using them while editing my first few novels, though - writing out the scenes on index cards to shuffle them around. I'm thinking by my fourth novel or so I'll be able to skip that step since things won't need as much shuffling, and I'm okay with that. Right now my goal is a novel every two months and a short-thing (15k-25k) every two months, plus another novel in a different series every 6 months or so (write it in 10k-15k increments as a side project).
 

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YodaRead said:
People often ask me how I write so fast. I honestly believe it's because I outline. Now, I don't always follow my outlines. If I get into it and get a better idea I have no problem changing it. My outlines don't even flesh everything out. They're more like pacing beats and tidbits. It does help me to keep track of my story. Thanks to outlines I've finished four novels and two 25,000-word shorts since the beginning of January. I will finish another full WIP by Sunday. I didn't write today because I had to listen to and approve an audio book. When I was done, though, I put together five outlines. Yes. Five. I did three in one series and two in another. My hand hurts because I outline in notebooks by hand. It's because of outlines, though, that I will finish one book this week and start another next week. I honestly don't know how pantsers do it, but I give them a lot of credit. I would be lost without my outlines.
Did you see that book recommendation post earlier this week about "Take off your pants! Outline your books for better, faster writing." by Libbie Hawker? I also just picked up The Anatomy of Story by John Truby and I'm reading through that. Thrilling reads!

YodaRead said:
No. I like to put out crap.
I like to put out crap as well, I hate that feeling you get in your stomach when you stop putting out crap.
 

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YodaRead said:
No. I like to put out crap.
LOL!

I also groaned when I read about your prolific output, but I know enough genre and fiction writers who also have such a volume and in no way produce crap. I'm absolutely envious of them. I swear I have to sweat out every single word through my pores and it takes ages.

That said, outlines wouldn't help me. I know what happens in my stories, I have the outline stowed away. If I write it down in an abridged form I lose all enthusiasm for the story and won't finish it at all. It deflates.
 

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I don't believe in right brain left brain, but even if I did, I don't really see the division when it comes to outlining vs pantsing. Speaking as a reformed pantser, outlining is done in a huge creative rush of story, and the writing is a creative process of immersing myself in the characters. Analysis comes with editing.
 

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I've been doing this exact thing the past few weeks, and it's really helping me pick up my pace while I write.

I'm a very slow writer (I edit as I go--I know, I know, bad!) and my average a few weeks ago was something like 400 words an hour. Now that I take 15 minutes to write out a detailed outline of every scene before I start to write it, I've found my hourly average has started to increase (still not super great, but more in the range of 650-700 words).

For me, outlining has helped! My goal by the time the third book in my series is complete is to be up to 1,000 wph. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Nic said:
LOL!

I also groaned when I read about your prolific output, but I know enough genre and fiction writers who also have such a volume and in no way produce crap. I'm absolutely envious of them. I swear I have to sweat out every single word through my pores and it takes ages.

That said, outlines wouldn't help me. I know what happens in my stories, I have the outline stowed away. If I write it down in an abridged form I lose all enthusiasm for the story and won't finish it at all. It deflates.
I have mystery elements in almost all of my books. The outlines also keep me on track for appropriate hints and red herrings. Those always have to be dropped in -- and at appropriate times.
 

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Shiriluna Nott said:
I've been doing this exact thing the past few weeks, and it's really helping me pick up my pace while I write.

I'm a very slow writer (I edit as I go--I know, I know, bad!) and my average a few weeks ago was something like 400 words an hour. Now that I take 15 minutes to write out a detailed outline of every scene before I start to write it, I've found my hourly average has started to increase (still not super great, but more in the range of 650-700 words).

For me, outlining has helped! My goal by the time the third book in my series is complete is to be up to 1,000 wph. :D
I used to be really bad about editing as I went. And then I got a tablet and a really cheap bluetooth keyboard that likes to type letters two or three times sometimes. I very quickly got into the habit of letting it, because I could easily spend 20 minutes of each hour backspacing to fix that stuff.

YodaRead said:
I have mystery elements in almost all of my books. The outlines also keep me on track for appropriate hints and red herrings. Those always have to be dropped in -- and at appropriate times.
This is my experience as well. Foreshadowing has to be done with specific intent, and the only way to know how and went to do it is to know exactly what's going to happen throughout the entire story.
 

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When I start worrying about my output and how many words I write per day (let alone per hour), that's when the whole thing goes to buggery. Plotting, pantsing, whatever. I edit as I go, go over the entire book over and over again, but when the first draft is done, it goes to the editor the very next second.

I don't think I write very fast. Nowhere near 10k, 5k, or even 3k per DAY. Somehow, I published seven full length novels in 2014. As I said, the whole thing falls apart when I start to worry that I should somehow write MORE and MONITOR MY PROGRESS. So I don't. I think my output stacks up OK.
 

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I'm playing with a new experiment -- I call it Xtreme Outlining. Basically writing the book completely before writing the book.

I started it because I have so much on my plate right now that I found my writing time for certain projects was getting squeezed.  A more detailed outline helps me get back into the story after a long break.  However, as I've been doing this, I've discovered a whole lot of benefits in terms of problem solving.

At the moment, it's still an experiment for "on the side" type stories -- and might be of interest to the part time writers out there -- but I think this might work for any type story with a tricksy plot (mystery thrillers, etc).  I might start using it more broadly.

(BTW: I'm neither a pantser or a plotter -- or perhaps I should say I'm both.  I normally use whatever technique works for the moment.)

Camille
 
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