Monday, November 04, 2013

Outlining vs. Pantsing

The great divide in writing styles among genre writers, it is said, it the difference between outlining your story and flying by the seat of your pants.

When I was starting out over a decade ago, I tried to outline, but I quickly learned it seemed to constrain my free flow of thoughts. Since then, I have written in a style that would be called by most people "pantsing".

But that's probably a misnomer in my case. I learned over time that I apparently work out some kind of outline subconsciously in my mind beforehand, and when I sit down to write it pours out. The advantage of this style - why it works for me - is that since there is still is no outline to follow, I will write the narrative in whatever direction it leads.

As many writers will tell you, stories and characters often will go off in directions you didn't anticipate. The best thing to do sometimes is to get out of their way.

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"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

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