Saturday, June 9, 2012

Writing with a Light Outline.

I believe many who consider themselves pantsers really write with light outlines. Maybe they sketch out Act 1 and The Climax, and then jot down alternatives on how to arrive at the ending. Like the pantser, the difficult part of the novel for writers using a light outline is the middle. Characters tend to take over the middle of the story and run amok. Or, a larger problem, they tell you they want to be the Point Of View character in a scene, when a different character has more to lose. I suggest light outline writers read Orson Scott Card's, Characters and Viewpoint.

A good friend commented on the topic Writing by the Seat of Your Pants. I start out with a plan but it doesn't take long before things move of their own volition--even to the point of changing my pov character. 


In short stories, the vast majority of the time there is only one POV character. In novels, there are more than one, not a cast of thousands, but two or three characters in whose POV a scene could be written. If this happens to you, ask yourself, "Who is risking the most in this scene?" Then write the scene in their POV. People who use a light outline know planning is necessary. They'll have fewer rewrites than a true pantser will. But they are likely to struggle with the story line, as things move of their own volition. Personalities low on patience and high in creativity will use the light outline.


Sometimes I think they are the ones who'd like to write three endings and ask the reader to take their pick. A final thought, both pantsers and those using a light outline often write themselves into a corner. It's Page 306, and they don't know how the bloody thing can come together. Eventually, their creativity jams the puzzle together and the outcome is a great book.  

1 comment:

John Biggs said...

Orson Scott Card was good selection. I think I fit into the light outline category he describes, which is why I feel more comfortable writing short fiction.

By the way, the characters I have to copy to prove I'm not a robot often prove I am one.