To Outline or Not to Outline?

Darcy and Winters

To outline or not to outline? That is, without a doubt, one of the most contentious issues in writing, both in fantasy and in fiction more generally. Terry Brooks, one of the foremost advocates for outlining in the fantasy world, shares an anecdote in his writing memoir Sometimes the Magic Works that Anne McCaffrey (another giant in the genre), once said that she’d never outlined a thing in her life. Stephen King is also one of those writers who doesn’t really like outlining, preferring to simply throw his characters into a narrative and let them figure out what to do.

Obviously, each of these options has its benefits and its drawbacks. Outlining lets you keep control of the narrative from the beginning to the ending and, as Brooks avers, lets you focus on the other key aspects of writing such as setting, characterization etc. This can be especially useful for…

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