Today we’re going to be talking about outlining. ‘Cause we all know it’s not truly what we think it is. *wiggles eyebrows*
People nowadays pass outlining off as something any author can do in excess without losing their souls. But is it?
This greatly-debated question is the subject of our post today. Though this is a brief little discussion, I hope it will inform you as to the dangers of over-outlining.
Outlining is the formation of novel ideas pre-writing to maximize your chances of success during the first draft. This may come in many forms – the bullet points, the summary, etc.
Outlining can be a very good thing. In fact, I think it’s one of the best things someone can do pre-writing if they want to have a functional first draft. But there is such thing as over-outlining.
What is over-outlining? This is something that happens when an author delays writing too long, obsessed with coming up with the perfect outline, with summarizing every scene.
But the truth is, some scenes need to be written through. Not all scenes can be perfectly summarized pre-writing. Heck, not all plot points can be perfectly summarized pre-writing!
Common symptoms of extreme outlining in authors include, but are not limited to,
- Extreme organizing. They do this with things not related to writing, too. Essentially, outlining gives them a bad case of OCD.
- Paper-spreading. Papers begin to spread wherever extreme outliners go. Trust me.
- Buying binders and/or expensive writing programs. And before you know it, they’re dead broke, poor things!
- Obsessively repeating a phrase or sentence. Such as, “There’s got to be a way I can save her!” or “PARKER GET YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW!”
- Chanting “I: a, b, c,” “II: a, b, c,” “III: a, b, c,” and so on. True story.
Some of these symptoms may appear in authors whether or not they are victims of excessive outlining. However, it’s wise to be wary.
What can you do if your friend can’t stop outlining?
- Just give up. They’re probably gonna die.
- But if you want to save them, convince them to write.
Writing is the one and only cure for excessive outlining.
So find a pencil. And write.
Remember, in small doses, outlining is healthy and helpful – even extremely helpful. However, in larger doses, and combined with the author’s natural obsession with creating the perfect book, it can be lethal.
Be wise in your dosages.
Have you ever been infected with obsessive outlining? How did you escape? Or do you have the opposite problem – pansteritis? This can also be quite dangerous. #balancedisbest
Also, this post was mostly sarcastic. I mean, sure, you can outline too much, and many writers forget that. Though outlining is good, overthinking your book before you write it is bad. However, it’s not lethal, and I have the greatest respect for excessive, obsessive outliners.