June 20th, 2009

Exactly what is an outline?

Over the last few years, I’ve discovered some innocent sounding words or phrases that (when thrown into a conversation with a group of other writers) are all but guaranteed to provoke a heated discussion. 

In no particular order, they are: ‘I read books about writing’; ‘I write/don’t write short stories’; any mention of self-publishing/POD; and my personal favorite ‘I use outlines’.

 

I plan to cover all of these in future posts, but for now let’s start with outlines.  I’ve never come across a writing method that attracts such scorn. For the life of me I can’t think why?

 

Let’s be clear here.  I don’t care if you produce a fifty page outline for a novel, or write one on the back of a postage stamp.  Maybe  you just sit down and start typing.  Everybody has their own way of working, I respect that, but why the dismissive attitude?

In my next post, I plan to discuss this in more detail, but in the meantime, I have a question for any writers out there and I rather think the answers will explain a lot. 

Whether or not you use one, in your opinion, what exactly is an outline?
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