The In Between

So, I was just reading more in Plot & Structure By James Scott Bell. In this book he addresses the two styles of operating when writing. Being an Outline Person (OP) and a Non-Outline Person (NOP). Ah, the differences.

First the Outline Person. The OP is someone who likes structure when writing. Setting up the events in their detailed order before putting down your story. This is a good way to set up plot points and the action/reaction formulas. Not a bad way to go. But if you’re not careful you can slip into control-freak mode and suspend your imagination. Take breaks to let your imagination roam freely. He also advises if you write everything on index cards, shuffle them. Yep, shuffle them! Then try your story in a different order. It may make it better.

Second the Non-Outline Person. The NOP is a person who writes by the seat of their pants. Writers who write freely and openly. No boundaries, no set lines. And while this can yield even more unique ideas it has its drawbacks as well. Writing this way can leave its fair share of loose ends. Without something to keep you tethered you may just drift away on your own inspiration. This is a great way to write more character driven fiction.

My issue is that I seem to fall in between. While I love my outlines and guard them with my life I also don’t let them dictate how I write. Those moments in between major events and minor events, our action/ reaction moments, are where I write freely. I like to take the time to plan out my major plot points, but I also like (after setting them out before me) to play with them. The former ‘What If?’ post plays out here. I shuffle, I add new thoughts, I take my time to ponder.

But at the end of the day I enjoy the process. This book has challenged my brain to write better. It has helped me form a better character and story. Although it is not about fleshing out characters, building your plot should push you to do just that. If you don’t have a worthy character your story won’t work. (Yes, I know there are exceptions to every rule.) But if you look into your subconscious and learn who you are and why you believe what you believe it gives you the keys to create reliable, honest characters.

Pick up this book, and I recommend the hard copy not the e-book. I need to underline and re-read specific points. It is reference meant to be used. It really has made a huge difference to me as a writer.

Have a great one!