Friday, 2 August 2013


I've decided that I really like outlining as part of my method for producing work. It's something I started doing with those ghost writing clients who only provided a vague idea, primarily as a way of showing them that I did know where the story was going, and that the things they did have could be drawn into a coherent story. Several of my other clients also favoured it as the main way of telling me what to write.

Now, it has become indispensable for me. I find that pieces where I try to plan every detail don't work for me well (because I get bored) and pieces where I try to just write don't work well (because I'm never sure where I'm going). Outlining provides a happy medium. It tells me that I know the story, lets me work on the elements of it in a simple form, and gives me the minimum details of character and setting I need to make things work.

Outlining is story boiled down to an essence. Or to look at it another way, it's the compositional sketch before you start a painting. It's a way of investing a few hours and knowing whether you have a functional story or not.

Even writers who famously just write sometimes use outlining. Neil Gaiman wrote an outline for the Sandman series, for example (although that may have had something to do with the collaborative nature of comics production). The other bonus from all this is that it gives you a tool with which to sell the resulting piece. An outline/synopsis is exactly what publishers ask for as part of a submission.

So I'm enjoying outlining. Now, to get from there to the actual writing.

1 comment:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I often spend as much time on the outline as I do the actual writing...