320px-Joy_Oil_gas_station_blueprints.jpg

Occasionally I read writers writing about how to write novels, and some outline their stories before they write them and others don't. Generally those in either camp will say, "You have to figure out what works for you."

But here's what I've noticed.

More often than not, those on the pro-outline side will say, "You have to figure out what works for you... But seriously, are you a moron? What the hell makes you think you can write a novel without an outline? You'd be an idiot to try."

But the no-outliners usually say, "You have to figure out what works for you. Me, I don't like to outline. It cramps my imagination and sucks the joy out of the process. But that's just me. YMMV."

I haven't done a systematic study, and this is only my subjective impression. If I went back and carefully re-read all the writers on fiction writing I've ever read, I might find that the characterizations above aren't true.

But if my perception is roughly accurate, it makes me think that outlining, or not, is more a character trait than a strategic decision.


Image info: Joy Gas service station elevation drawings, 910 Lake Shore Road Blvd W., Toronto, Canada, 1936. From Wikimedia Commons