We like to use words like-

creating, crafting, composing

when talking about writing a story. My writing process is a bit different. I find that when I’m writing I’m not creating, rather I’m discovering a story that’s already completed and I’m peeking at the scenes as I go along.

Is that a bit cheesy? That’s okay.

When I say don’t box your story in, I mean don’t cling so hard to your outline that you don’t let yourself discover the story you didn’t know you were writing.

I’m not much of an outliner, but sometimes I do feel too cluttered so I write a few things that I know I want to happen in the story, but I don’t let that dictate my story. They’re mere suggestions.

Try this: don’t outline. Just once.

If you’re a hardcore outliner, then step back, breathe the fresh air. Think of an image. A scene.

Anything. And then write from there and maybe something magical will happen.

Some of my best work has been when I have a image in my mind I can’t shake so I have to write it out and then it becomes this story I never knew was in me.

It enables you to let go.

What is writer’s block but not knowing how to get from A to B in your story? Mark through A and B and write whatever. (It’s not like you have to keep everything.)

Outlining has a tendency to make you think you have to follow it. You don’t…at least not all the time. When this happens your story is forced in a direction–it’s not naturally flowing (I don’t mean the flow of story writing…because I don’t believe there is such a thing, but the flow of story line.)

And when your story is forced to go where you only think it should go, the reader can tell.

I’ve written some awful stuff because I wanted a certain thing to happen in a story, but when I began writing it seemed like I was going in a different direction and said thing would no longer work. But I didn’t care. I wanted it to happen. So awkward explaining and dialogue later, I made it happen.

It’s like when a character dies at the end of a novel, but it feels out of place. Not in a oh-my-goodness-how-could-they-kill-them way, but in a that-made-no-sense way.

So please if you want your character dead at the end, fine. But have it make sense and not just because that’s what you wrote at the bottom of your outline.