Indie Writing – about outlining in reverse

Most Indie writers will be aware of the two extremes of writing technique: pantsting and outlining. Well, I’m kind of a hybrid. Most of the time I write as a ‘pantster’, meaning that I allow my sub-conscious to direct the flow of the story rather than planning it out ahead of time. The trouble is, after a certain point, my stories become rather complex and convoluted, so I do have to think ahead, at least a little.

Nevertheless, my ‘thinking ahead’ still doesn’t constitute an outline. For me, outlining is something that happens after the story is told, not before. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past three days. I’ve been going through Vokhtah, line by line, noting down all the bits and pieces that make up the story. These include the plot, of course, but also things like timelines, motivation/backstory and the introduction of Vokhtan vocabulary.

All in all, my reverse outlining takes up 19 pages of notations. This is just one of them:

As you can see, its data in the raw, and tomorrow I’ll have to massage it into some sort of order that goes beyond the simple chronology of the story. But that’s for tomorrow. For now, I need a coffee and a walk around the garden with the ‘kids’.






About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

12 responses to “Indie Writing – about outlining in reverse

  • Yorgos KC

    Well, obviously, I prefer outlining the story ahead (planner here).
    I was under the… illusionary (?) impression that everybody does at least a little outlining. But writers’ world is full of surprises! πŸ€“πŸ˜


  • Elizabeth Drake

    I’m a panster on the first draft, and I pay the price on the second. But at least there’s a first draft to edit!

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      lol – I hear you! I end up doing a bit of plotting in the middle of the first draft and the go back to pantsting for the end. Then yes, the restructuring happens. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 2 people

      • Elizabeth Drake

        That’s the hard part. My brain is weird. I pantsed 3/4 of the way through my current WIP. I know what happens at the end and lined up the remaining events to write. And now, I have to fight and force myself to squeeze out 500 words a night, where during my pantsing days, I was averaging over a 1k. I don’t get my brain.


  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    The only outlining I do is in my head. A beginning, a couple of key events and an end. If I try to do more it stops me dead. My characters can’t grow and the plot is stuck.


    • acflory

      ‘My characters can’t grow and the plot is stuck.’

      Yeah, I have the same problem. I admire people who can get the whole story sorted up front, but my mind simply doesn’t work that way.


  • Candy Korman

    I’ve done post-draft outlines to make rewriting more efficient. I should have done it for the current novel rewrite. LOL… Might make it easier. Mine is more about the sequence of events or sequence of facts revealed, to make sure the mystery unfolds naturally.


    • acflory

      Yeah, I need that sequence of events too, but I also find I have to repeat certain terms or words ‘gently’ in order to familiarise the reader with them – like my made up language in Vokhtah. Helps to know when I first introduced it, how often etc.


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