January 18, 2023 – Day 17 of #ADayInMyLife @PTLPerrin 30-Day #Blogging Challenge 2023 @RRBC_org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC #RWISA

1-18-23, Day 17 In PTL Perrin’s Life

Welcome to day seventeen of A Day In My Life! Happy Wednesday!

Authors write books from one of two approaches. They outline their story, giving it structure and good bones, and then they flesh it out. We call them outliners. The other authors write the story as it comes to them, letting it ebb and flow as it will, and then go back and make sure it has structure. We call them pantsers. They write by the seat of their pants. I’m one of those.

Courtesy of Susan Mielke from Pixabay

I’m like the girl in the picture above. My characters lead me into the story, where the landscape of my mind changes and becomes the scenes I want to get down. I see the spaces in which the action happens, and I feel and hear the characters living out the action. When I’m in the zone, where everything around me fades out and all that’s left is the story, the flow excites me, carries me, and opens doors to what comes next. My mind defies outlines. I know, because I’ve tried them.

I admire people who can outline their plot to fill in later. It seems the more logical way to make sure all the elements are in their proper place for a good flow. I imagine the outliner doesn’t run into bogs and snags and writer’s block and wandering plot holes. After all, the bones are there and they’re good ones. The flesh they cover the bones with makes for great stories.

In my case, I found that outlining takes as much time as diving right into it. As I’m outlining, I’m seeing the story unfold, fully fleshed out, and it doesn’t want to follow the lines at all.

The one time I pushed myself to do the planning and write the outline, I got so frustrated with all the scenes and characters pushing me to get them on paper, that I ditched the bones and got back to building the full creature. I’d make a lousy architect.

I credit the fact that my works of fiction are more than bowls of boneless pudding to the years I’ve been an avid reader. Once a person has read thousands of books, they should know instinctively how a story must progress, how it must feel, and how to draw the reader into it. I know other pantsers for whom this approach works well.

I can tell you that when I’m in the zone, and the story flows, I feel like I’m a child dancing in a sunny meadow, free and light and surrounded by the world I have the privilege to create.

How about you? Are you an outliner or a pantser? Why is that approach the best one for you?

By the way, my daily list of things to do is as close as I get to outlining. And because I am how I am, I do the things I want to do and ignore the rest–until time runs out and I do them, or the items drop off and fade into wisps of thought and out the door. “Wasn’t I supposed to …..?”

Courtesy of Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Thank you for reading my blog today, and please visit my friends and fellow RRBC Bloggers at  https://ravereviewsbookclub.wordpress.com/rrbc-member-chat/


Patty Perrin (writing as P.T.L. Perrin)


8 thoughts on “January 18, 2023 – Day 17 of #ADayInMyLife @PTLPerrin 30-Day #Blogging Challenge 2023 @RRBC_org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC #RWISA

  1. Patty, an engaging post! Your descriptions of how you feel in “the flow” were beautiful and spot-on! I’m a combo writer – for stories, I go with the flow. For novels, I do a complete outline with detailed character studies. That makes me feel grounded, although I often deviate from the plan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Maura Beth! I’m glad you said that, about deviating from the plan. Outlines aren’t rigid and can change as the story moves along, right? Even as a pantser, I add bones to my novels by keeping lists of details. My current WIP has dual timelines, where time in one place moves five times faster than time in another place. Imagine a spreadsheet with a list of five years of days down one column and a corresponding list of one year, with one day per each group of five days in the second column. That is an exoskeleton. One of many. I wish my mind would let me outline!



  2. In my first series, I wrote as the ideas flowed to me. I had the beginning, middle, and end. For the last book in the trilogy, I tried outlining; it got complicated with three character arcs. It worked out well, as did the first book in my new series. Then I decided to outline the second and extensively research the Penobscot Indians. I began writing it a year ago and only have 30 pages written. I’ve edited a few times, but I can’t move forward. I’ve outlined myself into a corner and lost my creativity. There must be a middle road.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Susanne. I’m sure there’s a middle road. Even in the comments here, people who outline aren’t tied to their outlines. I see the wisdom in it, even though I haven’t been able to successfully do it. Sometimes I think my spreadsheets are an exoskeleton, taking the place of an outline in keeping my characters, arcs, and plot lines in order.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. I tend to be an outliner, especially when writing my series or a full-length novel. It helps me get new ideas and helps keep me focused on interweaving the different plot lines. For short stories, I don’t outline. I just go with the flow. Well, the reality is that I’ve already creating the outline in my mind. I just don’t put it on paper. Guess that’s just how my brain works! 🙂

    Yvette M Calleiro 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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