Going off the Rails – My Outlining Experiment

I’m two weeks into my latest book, Paralyzer, as well as my experiment with outlining.  The first week went well.  Pretty good word count and a pre-planned map of where I was going.  In the first five or six chapters, I was fairly close to the outline.  Near the end of the week, I noticed that certain points didn’t fit in a particular chapter, so I bolded them for later use.  Over all, it flowed well and I was happy with my progress.

Having finished week two, I see myself going off the rails.  I enjoy the creative, in-the-moment writing where the story comes together during the process of writing.  A great night of writing will leave me thinking: “Wow, that was so cool.  I love where this is going.” But going from an outline, the more I get those great moments of fun creativity, the more I know I’ve moved away from the outline.

See what one of my great resources Joanna Pen says about outlining.


Here’s a resource on steps to outlining with some sheets to help you at Creative Writing Now.


I also have quite enjoyed the information by Alexandra Sokoloff on timing and key components of a story. http://www.screenwritingtricks.com/.

Myself, I used my own style of 4 to 6 lines under each chapter number. This let me get an understanding of the plot points and where the key elements of the story had to fit for proper story structure.

I am now at a stage where I have to regroup. I’ve added a chapter so my numbers are off. I’ve changed some key elements and added characters I hadn’t thought of before, but are now needed to fill holes in logic. At one point, I was asking myself, why would the character really do that? Who in their right mind would? I had to add some more story to make his actions believable.

At this point I am undecided if I prefer outlining or not. It’s going to take some work to revamp my outline, which takes time away from writing. In the long run though, I expect I will have a better finished product.

Leave a comment on your experiences with outlining.