Outlines versus Flying by the Seat of your Pants (Pancers)

Before I get too deep into this particular post, I must make a confession. I do not use outlines that much. I will draw up an overall plot line for a story, but leave it at that. Outlines just don't work for me. I have tried drawing up outlines numerous times before starting a story but with the same results. My plot would start off running parallel to the outline, but, the farther along I would go into the story, the plot would drift slowly away from the outline until the two were no longer in sight of one another. Eventually, the plot and outline would cross paths again at the end of the story. so, the outline DID work -- to a degree.

I worked on an outline for Warriors of Dragonsrod several years ago. It was long, (there are thirty-seven chapters in this book) I kept up with the outline until about chapter ten or eleven, but after that, the story more-or-less, took on a life of its own and went in a totally different direction from the outline to which I soon chucked in favor of the fly by the seat of your pants approach.

Yes, I'm a pancer, and I am proud of it, thank you very much!

I didn't bother with an outline for the next two Dragonsrod books either. I enjoyed the sense of adventure of not knowing where or how the story ended. Of course, I knew how the story generally would end, but getting there was the fun part.

What didn't work for me, may work for someone else.

As you know, an outline is a basic list of ideas for your book project from chapter to chapter, from beginning to the middle to your story's climax at the end. You can add in or take out whatever you want, make it as long or as short as you want.

My outlines, for whatever the reason, seemed to be mentally binding for me and would get in the way of my progress. So, I stopped using outlines and worked up general plot line (as I mentioned above) and left it at that until I would start work on the project.

Some authors swear by outlines and make up several for the same story. Some make up outlines for an entire series, or series (plural)!

On the other side of the fence is the Fly by the seat of your pants writers, or Pancers, which means anything goes. Your story takes on a life of its own and it goes where it wants to go, taking you, the author, for a long, wild, bumpy ride, eventually letting you get enough control for the landing whether it be smooth or a hot touchdown to end your story.

Many writers prefer this method, maybe because of the risk factor and the recklessness of it all. Maybe it is also a sense of freedom that some writers tend to feel using this approach.

The same can be said for Outlines as well, many writers favor a sense of order and of discipline and structure that outlines give.

In conclusion, I am making an argument for both causes because they both work! Being a Pancer works better for me. Use whatever method works best for you.

Don't restrict yourself, whether you're an outliner or a pancer, just get the story done!

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