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  • Writer's pictureMJ Rodriguez

The Outline Debate

Often writers debate over whether to outline or not. I won’t debate over it. I don’t care what method you use when you write—to each his own. I have published three novellas and didn’t outline any of them. I just started writing and wrote until I was done. About a third of the way in I sketched out a semblance of an outline to sort of know where I was going. However, my characters seemed to change the story, so I’d have to periodically change the outline.

This novel is different. It’s based loosely on a story from the Bible, and I tried to write it from the hip (panster it, if you know what I mean), but I got nowhere fast. One day I sat down and outlined the whole story. I tried using Scrivener, but I haven’t learned that program well enough to make it work for me. Maybe someday. Once the outline was done, I started writing and still haven't stopped. (Except to eat, sleep, go to church, and other necessities. You get it.)

My characters still change the plot scenes and I have to revisit the outline a lot, but initially, the plot remains the same. However, I have altered the ending. I intended to kill off a couple of the main characters, but they had a different idea. Guess they didn’t want to die. But who does?

I find it amazing that my characters take on lives of their own. They seem to determine what happens to them and sometimes I feel I have little control. It makes writing fun. I told someone the other day, “My character is lost in the woods and I have no idea where he is.” Their response was priceless. I did eventually find him and take care of him.

I almost dread the long editing process, but I’m excited about getting this book finished. I hope when I read it through it all makes sense without a lot of rewriting. Oh well! I’ll do what I have to do.

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