Novel Writing

The beauty of writing with an outline

bees in spring illustration
I’m thinking of using this illustration for one of my book covers, but if I do, I need to find additional illustrations for the other book covers that will fit with the theme. What do you think?

Once upon a time… I was a pantser. I wrote by the seat of my pants, outlines be damned.

Once upon a time, most of my stories went nowhere. Or they went everywhere, with no end in sight. But I was adamant that I didn’t need an outline. An outline could only make my novels predictable. I needed to allow the story to unfold on its own without forcing it. Otherwise, it wouldn’t come across as natural. Right?

Well, maybe that’s how it works for some people.

When I got to graduate school, I had to create outlines for all of my novel writing courses. I hated it.

And then one day, I decided to really push myself and write an entire story in two weeks. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I didn’t care if I wrote the “Great American Novel.” I just needed a win.

The best way to make this happen – I thought – would be to make an outline. I used Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” cycle as a guide and got to work on my 14-chapter outline (It ended up needing 16 chapters by the time it was done.) Then I sat down once a day for two straight weeks (plus 2 days) and wrote one chapter each day until the first draft was done. Continue reading “The beauty of writing with an outline”