No. You don’t have to do anything you think you shouldn’t do.

But it wouldn’t hurt to try.

I Didn’t Like Outlining Either

Once upon a time, I too was a pantser (or someone who writes on the seat of their pants). I had no plan. I didn’t even have any clue as to how I could outline my story. All I had was an idea. I wrote every scene as it popped into my head.

What happened?

Every time I would get several chapters into my story, I’d reread it and realize that it was going nowhere. In fact, even I didn’t know where the story was headed. I had no clue as to what came next.

Because all I had was the initial idea, the “What if…?”

I didn’t have a plan for how the story would end, or how the characters would get to the end. As a result, I often ran into the dreaded Writer’s Block.

And so came discouragement

For the longest time I put off writing because it seemed nearly impossible for me to finish a story. Even as I was finishing my college thesis (a collection of short stories), putting words in front of one another almost felt like climbing Everest.

And even when I’d finished writing the story, it felt like I hadn’t really arrived at the top. Nearly all of the stories I’d included in my Creative Writing thesis felt half-baked. They read more like sketches rather than stories.

And then there was structure

The simplest and yet most profound advice I got on story structure came after reading Brian McDonald‘s Invisible Ink (Buy yourself a copy on Amazon). In his book, he enumerated his seven steps to better storytelling…

  1. Once upon a time…
  2. And everyday…
  3. Until one day…
  4. And because of this…
  5. And because of this…
  6. Until finally…
  7. And ever since that day…

This was just the start, a very rough outline that shouldn’t take more than ten minutes. In fact, it’s so vital, and so important that even Pixar advocates making this kind of preparation.

So if you’re not too keen on outlining your entire story, but need something to go on, this is the best outline format out there.

Featured Image credited to: oskay via Compfight cc