Mitosis (Or, How to Outline When You Suck at Outlining)

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I have always had a love-hate relationship with outlining. On one hand, my writing is more focused and precise when I use one. Editing is certainly easier. On the other hand, it can be disruptive to my creative process. When I start writing something, I often only have a vague idea and a character or three to start. I rarely ever know all the meat and bones of the story going into it. The process of writing for me is also a process of exploration, and I love letting the story unfold naturally. Its how my brain works. I know its how the brains of many “pantser” writers work as well.

So, for me at least, the hardest part of outlining is going from a vague idea with a few general plot points, to a detailed chapter-by-chapter sequence of specific events. For me, it feels very “cart before the horse,” and it squelches that lovely story unfolding process thingy (technical term right there) that I described. But I knew my writing would benefit from outlines, and so, stubborn as I am, I was determined to find an approach to outlining that worked for someone with a brain like mine. Continue reading

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