So, you've got a story idea. You're stoked about it. You're formulating the plot in your mind. You have character ideas, character names. Then you think, 'Well, do I just plop my ass down in a chair and start writing this thing, or do I need an outline?" So...you do what every inquisitive, budding author does. You head over to Facebook to pose the question to other authors (or writers) only to be doused with opinions that are just that...opinions. Some are vehemently opposed to 'pantsing it', insisting that you will never have a good story without an outline. Others insist that outlines are a waste of time and that you ought to be spending your time actually writing the damn story. What do you do?
The answer: whatever the hell you want.
The age-old debate of 'to outline or not to outline' is a perpetual one based solely on opinion and what has worked for other writers. Some don't have the patience to sit and plan out their entire story before writing, nor would they want to. Others simply can't sit in front of a computer (or typewriter) and just have the story organically flow for them.
My view on this is that we all tend to use a mixture of pantsing and outlining, to a certain extent. For example, I'm a pantser. When I sit down and start writing, the story unfolds for me. It plays in my mind like a film. This is awesome because I'm just as excited and filled with anticipation while writing as a reader would be while reading. It's not a style I push on people, it just happens to be my preference. Now, sometimes I get to a point in the story where it doesn't flow as well. For this, I tend to write a loose outline. I jot down a brief bullet-pointed list for a few chapters. The list provides a general idea of what I'd like those chapters to accomplish and where I'd like to see the story go. This tends to kick-start the flow and it gives me a guideline, which I tend to veer off of once that film reel starts playing again.
So, new writer, that's my two cents on the whole thing. You're not wrong for outlining, you're not wrong for pantsing. Do whatever works for you. But combining the two can work wonders. I know it's helped me plenty of times.
So, I'm working on finishing up The Bad. This will be a novelette that I will post for FREE here on my site. It's about a guy who accidentally kills his wife (or so he thinks - no spoilers). When I originally had the idea, I thought it would be a short novel. That did not work. But that's the nature of writing. Sometimes we have these ideas that, in our heads, seem bigger than they really are. We just need to come to grips with that and not force it.
Now, maybe you'll read the story and say, "Dave, come on man. You thought you were getting a full novel out of this?" And you'd be right. I'm glad the rational part of my brain knows when to call it a day (nothing worse than reading a full-length novel that could have been a short story. I try not to do that to you guys).
For rent: a small, quaint beach house that rests quietly atop a cliff along the sunny coast of a private New England island. This dream vacation spot provides a gorgeous view of the ocean.
Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Sounds like a place you’d like to vacation. Good. Perfect, actually. It ’s a beautiful place, but there is one catch—the place has a very dark and unsavory past.
Still wanna go there?
This was the formula for one of my recent releases, Obsession. A lot of horror stories use a creepy, old house or asylum as their backdrop. I didn't want to use something that would be perceived as creepy or off-putting based solely on the way it looks or its reputation in the horror industry. Instead, I wanted to take something comfortable and alluring and slowly transform it into something unsettling. I wanted to give the reader the sense that they're in a good place, and then slowly pull away the thread from the rug they're standing on. This slow burn effect also takes a toll on the characters, Doug and Karen, as we see how their relationship is affected by the events that unfold throughout the story.
Sometimes looks can be deceiving, and sometimes that's a good thing.