Monday, June 8, 2009

The Blueprint

What kind of writer are you?  Are you a NOP (No Outline Person) or an OP (Outline Person), as James Scott Bell terms them?

I ask, because I am currently on my second draft, and it occurs to me I have been robbed.  Yes, I have been robbed of the experience of revision.  Because what has happened is I have twisted the plot so much that the first draft really can't be used in the form it's in.  So I am rewriting the whole thing.  It's faster, of course.  And I've noticed it's far easier, at least in certain elements.  For instance, I haven't had to struggle with voice and style like I did the first draft.  Haven't had any issues with too many colloquials in the age of Ancient Greece.  But nevertheless, I feel robbed. Because my second draft is not editing and revising, cutting and adding.  That's what I want to do.  I will have to wait until the second draft is complete.

I have labeled myself a NOP.  My first draft is pretty much a gigantic outline, and my second draft is the real deal.  I do plot things out before I write them, but not on paper, and not clear enough to notice when big plot holes come up.  On the other hand, I find myself at a dead standstill if I don't know what's coming next.  I have to KNOW what's coming next, and then the nice little nuances create themselves while I'm writing.  Big scenes, though?  They are planned.  Always planned.  So what am I?  Am I a NOP, as I have deemed?  Or an OP?  Or am I a freak of nature?


  1. I'm a complete NOP. I have a very general (as in two sentence general) idea of where I'm going to go, but everything up is up to my characters. I've tried outlining, but it got in the way of writing for me, so I don't do it anymore. :D

  2. I am completely a NOP. In fact, today I began creating a whole story from a snippet I wrote some time back. I have no idea where I'm going with it, but I know there's a story there to be told. We'll see how it goes, but I'm not worried.

  3. Just to be difficult, I have a brief outline in my head, but my characters always take over and change things :)

  4. It seems like the general consensus here is NOP. I do worry, sometimes, that I'll make it halfway through and then won't know where to go.

  5. I'll be the voice of dissent. ;) I'm an OP.

    Before I get too far into writing, or sometimes before I write any real prose at all, I like to have a goal in mind. I never start a story without an idea of where it's going to end.

    Nothing really concrete, and this goal often changes halfway through, but I need a realized conflict and a solution before I can come up with characters and write beleivable motivations for them.

    But I don't "outline", I just write longhand in my notebooks until I can't write anymore. I probably write something close to 20K words of notes before I really get into typing the actual story.

    Great blog, btw.