Outline … what?#TuesdayThoughts from Doris (@mamaD8)

Hello, peeps, Doris here with her Tuesday Thoughts.  My fellow quills have done a great job of giving you tips on writing structure, character development, and outlining, but what, if like me, you look at some of that and go, “Say, whaaat?”


It might surprise you to hear that I have never picked up a how-to-write book in my life. I did read a ton of articles on writing when I first started to seriously pursue publication, and while they were certainly helpful for terms like POV and black moment and such like, the whole mention of structure this and outlining that just left me scratching my head and more confused than ever.

It was only when I attended a workshop with one of my fav authors Heidi Rice in London, and she shared that she was actually a panster, that things became clear to me.

You see, I have a very unpredictable and hyperactive muse—I might have mentioned her a few times—and she gets very antsy when I try to get her to conform.

Nope, not gonna happen. She sulks and takes off to destinations unknown.

She works best when I let those random snippets of ideas she bombards me with on a daily basis bubble away in the deep, dark recesses of my brain, until such a time as that vague idea crystallizes for me.

I know if it’s going to work by the bubbles of excitement in my tummy when I start to write.

There is nothing scientific about this process. Writing, for me at least, is very instinctive, entirely character led and always an adventure. Even on those occasions when I have a rough outline in my head, the story never goes where I expect it to, and you know, that’s fine.

I know other writers, even other pansters can and do struggle with this approach. I read about them deleting several thousand words of story, and I always wince.

I can hand on heart say, I have never deleted anything. Gone back and added to it, yes, sure, I do that all the time to flesh out a scene, add more depths to a character etc., but not delete it.

In my case those random bits that crop up somehow by the end of the story make sense. It’s amazing when I get that aha moment and everything falls into place. It’s when magic happens and my fingers fly.

Inspired lightbulb character

Now, I will truly admit that with some stories it takes a long time before I hit that magic moment. I flounder about in the dark for a bit, blindly tapping away at the keyboard until the road ahead is suddenly clear….or not.

There is the odd manuscript sitting on my hard drive that I’ve stalled on, but eventually, those characters will start talking again, and when the time comes for that story to be told, it will.

I can see you all rolling your eyes at me now. This is all well and good, but how is any of this rambling helpful in our writing?

You can’t just sit there and hope for the best.

No, you’re right, you can’t, and there are the mechanics you do need to learn. Grammar, sentence structure, passive voice to name but a few, but what no one will be able to teach you is how to write, because every writer will have a different process and you know what?

It’s fine. It’s okay. You do what works for you.

I write best when I have no idea where the story is going, and I simply hang on for the ride. When all I get is a few scenes ahead of me and I somehow manage to get the characters there by simply letting them set the pace.

To another writer that idea would be utterly abhorrent. Just like keeping note books, character sheets, story arches outlined on whiteboards make me hyperventilate just thinking about them.

Don’t laugh, they do.

I didn’t submit a series to a publisher I was considering because I knew they’d want a series outline.


I can’t do that. I haven’t got one. Nine out of ten times I don’t even know how long a series is going to be, and on the rare occasion that I do know that in advance, I still have no clue about the actual stories I’m going to write in that series, until I sit down and actually start to write.

Are you confused yet?

Well, don’t be. It’s really quite simple, at least in my book. You’re either a story teller, or you’re not. You’re either itching to bring those characters in your head to life or you’re not.

You either live to write or you don’t.

In my case I’ve always spun stories in my head, from as early on as I can remember. And I read, and read, and read. Anything I could lay my hands on, and in particular romance. From the old over the top tropes M&B was so famous for, to young adult, inspirational, and erotic romance and erotica. Sci-fi, historical, paranormal, didn’t matter to me.

If the blurb caught my eye, I’d read it, and that right there, is where I, at least, absorbed the mechanics of storytelling.

I learnt yet more when I actually started writing. Every rejection, every precious bit of feedback, every editor I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with has taught me something new, and my stories and my writing are constantly evolving, and that, peeps, is what every writer should strive to do.

Hone your craft, improve, and above all keep writing. It’s the only way to become better at it.

I shall stop rambling now, you’ll be relieved to hear, lol. If you found a writing resource that helped you, feel free to let me know in the comments. Chances are my muse will pale and back away slowly, but they might help someone else. Just like I hope my post today has helped the other hopeless pansters out there.

Keep on flying by the seat of your pants, I say, and don’t let anyone tell you that’s not the way to write. If it works for you, then it most certainly is, and added bonus. It’s fun!

Do stay naughty, folks

D xxx


4 thoughts on “Outline … what?#TuesdayThoughts from Doris (@mamaD8)

  1. To my amazement I find I can almost… a tiny bit … a teensy bit, almost… maybe have a nano idea of a plot. I sort of know the end, but never quite sure how I’m going to get there. It seems to work so far, but I’m sure I’ll be found out one day as ‘Oy that series outline you projected for isn’t what you ended up with’. I just write. As when I moan to you, you know

    Liked by 1 person

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