Plots. Â You can’t live without ’em. Â And I’ve got to say plotting is the toughest part of the writing process for me.
Okay, that’s not a shocking revelation, and I’m sure not a single jaw is dropping right now, but I keep reading about authors who dash off outlines so complete, the actual writing of the book is easy. I don’t remember which author said this, but he said that his outlines are longer than the novels they spawn! Â I am so envious of those who can come up with fully-formed stories before ever writing a single word. What’s worse, these people seem to be everywhere, especially in the stables of major publishers.
Meanwhile, I seem to be congenitally incapable of creating an outline, or even of envisioning a story from start to finish. Instead, I slog along from line to line, not knowing what’s coming next. I may or may not have a hazy image of an ending, but that’s about it. Â I wrote my last novelÂ from an opening line, without having the slightest clue as to what the next line would be, or what the story would be about.
I know, I know, there are no rules. That if writing without an outline works for me, or for anyone else, then that’s what we should do. Okay, I accept that. But here I am whining about not being able to outline or to even come up with a semblance of a story up front, and I’ll just bet my little old bottom dollar that there isn’t one single outliner out there who envies me. I once read a piece Harry Whittington wrote about his own writing career, and he said, “I could plot, baby. I could plot.” I’m quite sure he spent no time wishing he couldn’t plot, and had to instead rely upon limping from one line to the next. In fact, Harry Whittington aside, I’ll bet that no one who uses an outline wishes they could do it the other way.
How about it? Am I really doomed, or am I wasting energy wishing I could fabricate plots in advance?