Outlining My Pants

I’m coming across more and more writers who are neither “outliners” nor “pantsers”, but combine writing plans with seat-of-the-pants writing. I’m one of those. I love the rush of plunging head-first into a blank screen or sheet of paper, but I reach a point at which outlining–or at least minimal plotting–becomes necessary.

I’m losing words on my NaNoWriMo project today because I have to go back and look through what I’ve done so far and pick up threads, eliminate contradictions and add scenes I meant to put in but missed in my fever to write words.

The result will be a better idea of where I want to go and what I want to do, and the relult of that will be faster writing after the outline is done.

What I’m doing is making a very brief note of each scene–who’s in it, whose point-of-view, bit characters appearing–and writing bits as I go, tying into things I know I want to lead to in subsequent chapters. The story is beginning to take shape, you see, so I want to help that along.

When I reach the end of what I’ve already written, I’ll see if I’m far enough along to see an arc. If so, I’ll note some of the scenes I’ll need to do in order for that arc to happen. If not, I’ll go back to writing at random, outlining each scene as I write it, so I’ll have a handle on what I’ve done. That will make it easier to see what I have to work with, assuming I write at random through the whole of November.

If this process does nothing else, it will keep me from the nagging fear that I’m wasting time and energy babbling aimlessly into my keyboard.

WRITING PROMPT: Does your main character like to be spontaneous or like to plan things out? Has he/she always been this way? Is he/she always this way, or are there exceptions?



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Outlining My Pants

  1. KK Brees

    November 8, 2010 at 10:52am

    I’m a rough outliner and then a pantser. So far my pantsing is getting me very far. Sigh. Got to get the butt in the chair and crank out the wordsters this week.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Enid Wilson

    November 9, 2010 at 5:51am

    I normally use dot points to plot but the characters have a life of their own. They will go wherever they like. An uncontrollable bunch.

    My Darcy Mutates

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      November 9, 2010 at 8:42am

      That’s my problem–control freak. I always have more fun when the characters do their own thing, but I always have a crunchy feeling that I ought to have a better handle on them. It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye-color.

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