For a lot of years, I was very much a ‘Pantser’ in terms of my writing, and have the very long and rambling Roswell fanfic manuscripts to prove it. Recently, I’ve tried to outline in more formal ways, including trying the snowflake method with Nanowrimo last year, and the Blake Snyder beat board with Script Frenzy, which is working out quite well.
I used to think of my usual ‘writing by the seat of my pants’ approach as a way of taking a journey – whether walking or driving, but trying to get to a particular destination, and possibly visit certain landmarks along the way, but without a map or a planned out route, just a vague notion of which direction I’d find my goals in.
Outlining, so far, isn’t like scouting out the path ‘boots on the ground’ beforehand – it doesn’t have that same sense of immediacy that actually writing does. But, depending on how I approach the outline, it might be like working out a plan with a map, or on Google Maps, or even scouting out the territory in a helicopter ahead of time.
I haven’t made up my mind whether it’s always better to outline in a structured way, like with the snowflake method or the Blake Snyder approach, or more intuitively, just trying to write the storyline out in bullet points, (perhaps working back from the ending.) Maybe both approaches have their points, depending on the situation.
Either way, outlining is a pretty cool way to prepare for a writing trip, and I think that I’m going to keep experimenting with it, in more detail and trying out more approaches.