Another SOTP Post

In the on-going debate between those who outline like crazy and those who write by the seat of the pants (SOTP), I tend to land in the middle these days. I tried outlining, even thought I could make it work, but no. Sorry. Not a good method for me.

But outliners have a point too. SOTP writing can often be disconnected, shallow, ineffective. Of course, the best SOTP’ers know that their first draft is just that–a draft to be edited and revised and reworked. It is to the SOTP’er what the outline is to the outliner.

Some of you know that I’ve been having a hard time with Ride to the Altar. I rewrote the first chapter four times and couldn’t move on (I’m one of those who can’t move on to chapter two unless chapter one is near perfect). This has bothered me no end. I closed shop for client edits around October last year with the intent of finishing Kayla’s Challenge for the Coming Home collection and starting Ride to the Altar so I could publish it in May.

Well, I got part of that done. Kayla’s Challenge is ready to rumble.

But Ride to the Altar is a different genre for me, and I’ve been struggling. It’s on my mind constantly. What am I doing wrong? How can I fix this? How can I weave in the subplot? How can I …. ? Why can’t I …. ? What’s wrong with me?!

While I was at the writer’s retreat, I came closer, and when I got home from the writer’s retreat, I had an epiphany and jotted down all the major events that should occur from beginning to end. But that was it. I still couldn’t fix the first chapter.

Then, while I was at Mom’s last week, I had another epiphany (around three in the morning, of all things. Who needs sleep? Sleep is for wimps!). But that epiphany told me how to fix the first chapter, and I’ve been on a roll ever since. Don’t know that I’ll make my deadline, but at least I can write again.

What does this have to do with SOTP writing?

I think out the outline. It’s all there, in my head, and when everything starts falling into place, I write. Until everything is right, I’m stymied. I suppose I could write an extensive outline, but I don’t see the point. Once I’ve thought it all out and know where I’m going and how to get there, why not just start writing? It’s a draft, after all. An outline with flesh, if you prefer.

The more I learn about the craft of writing—character and setting development, arc, structure, dialogue, etc.—the easier writing becomes. What occupies my mind is the plot, and once I develop the plot in my head, along with character motives, goals, and roadblocks, I can start writing. Craft comes naturally because of years of study.

So, again, I think of myself as a hybrid. I outline, I just don’t write it down. I know the sequence of events, but I get from point to point by the seat of my pants. But I can’t move from chapter to chapter unless the previous chapter is close to perfect. Don’t know if that’s SOTP or OCD, but there ya go. That’s how I roll.

Everyone develops their own style of writing. What’s yours?

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
This entry was posted in write tips, Writing, Writing Tips and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Another SOTP Post

  1. Nicely said, Linda. I simply cannot remember anything unless I write it down though. So I too outline in my head, but must then write it down so I can see it in words, rearrange things neatly and not forget those bits of brilliance that came through epiphanies. So very happy to hear you broke through the wall and are now SOTP-ing again (with outline securely in brain)!


  2. I go back and forth between outlining and SOTP. Mostly, though, the stories I finish are SOTP. Maybe that says something. 🙂


  3. I’m a SOTP writer. I sketch a very loose outline. Bullet point possibilities. That I may or may nor refer back too. I’ve filled out character sketches. But we all know how we get to know characters later, and they are nothing like the sketch.


    • Yes, all that sounds familiar. Bullet points. If I get stuck once I get started, I sit with a notebook and pen and sketch out possibilities. Each of my novels have entire notebooks of unused possibilities! 😀


  4. I’m an outliner all the way. I use a slightly modified version of the Snowflake method (plus, a sheets of paper with notes and diagrams and timelines etc). But that’s just for the first draft. Once I start revising, a great deal of the original story changes and characters and their arcs shift. Nothing stays fixed, which is all part of the creative process.


    • You sound like my critique partner, KM Weiland. But I don’t think she uses Snowflake. She has her own method (has even written books about it!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • If it’s the same KM Weiland I’m thinking, I’ve read a couple of her books. I found out about snowflake while I was just starting out, and it sort of stuck with me ever since. Every time I outline a novel with Snowflake, I end up writing so many notes for every step the method has, that the outline itself ends up being well over 60k words! Almost a book on its own 🙂


        • AHA! You have stumbled on the reason why I just go ahead and write! Most of my novels are around 70K, so there’s no point in writing a 60K outline + notes when I can have an entire novel for just 10K more! 😀

          And yes, it’s the same KM Weiland—there’s only one. She’s an original (and a heckuva critique partner!).

          Liked by 1 person

          • You’re lucky to have her on your team, then! 😀

            For me, writing so many words just for notes and outline is a necessity. The thing is, I’m never satisfied with my plot, and always find holes no matter how much I outline. If I don’t outline as extensively I will end up rewriting the entire book more than twice (which is the most I allow myself to do. I have to hold back my perfectionism and produce something, right?), and that will simply drive me crazy.


  5. Ellen Menke says:

    Howdy there from Wyoming,
    I purchased give the lady a ride and the last ride at the blueberry festival in Nachedoches, Texas. I have enjoyed readding them both I cant wait for the ride the the alter to be published. Praying for you to get her done sk I can purchase it:)
    Thanks again for 2 good reads.
    Ellen in Wyoming


    • I remember meeting you! So happy you wrote and super happy you liked my novels! I finally got Ride to the Altar going and really hope to finish it this year so I can get it out next year. If you sign up for my newsletter (Coffee with Linda on the right side bar), you can be among the first to know its release date.

      Thank you so much for writing!


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