To outline or not to outline? That is the question!

What do writer’s advise about outlining vs. seat of the pants writing? Tom Wolfe says in a Writer’s Digest article, “I make a very tight outline of everything I write before I write it.” That works for me too, until I have a brilliant flash of inspiration on page 150 of my work in progress which sends me scurrying to the keyboard to plow up my neatly plotted outline.

Conversely, Robert Ludlum says, “To a great degree, much of the structure has got to come naturally out of the writing.” Well, that probably works great for an A List writer like Ludlum, but me? I have to sell a book based on a well crafted outline and sample chapters. My editor wants to know up front what the book is going to be about, so I can’t really write it first, then worry about the outline. So where does that leave me? Somewhere between Wolfe’s outline and Ludlum’s natural approach.Pen with flowers

So what about you, writers? What methods do you find keep you sitting in that chair until the book is done?

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