July 7, 2014

Outlining Versus Freestyle?

By D.J. Williams

The biggest question I ask myself when I begin to write a novel is whether I am going to spend the time outlining or if I am going to go freestyle. 

When I started The Disillusioned I spent days outlining to be sure that everything was mapped out before I wrote the first page. I thought this was the best way for me to work. What I discovered was that it slowed my creativity down. Spending all of my time outlining meant that I wasn’t writing. Sure, I was planning out the chapters but I wasn’t allowing the story to be my guide. My progress slowed to a snail’s pace and I grew frustrated that whenever I had a new idea or plot point I had to spend more time reworking my outline. Twenty chapters into the book and I decided to toss my outline in the trash. It didn’t work for me. I made a conscious choice to write towards zones, turning points in the story, and once I reached each zone I would then write to the next one. I stopped worrying about all the details and found myself lost in the story as I wrote late into the night. I gained momentum, spent more time writing, and finished my first draft.

As a writer, I’m still refining my process. What I have learned is that sometimes you have to break the rules to discover the excitement of telling your story. You’ll unlock pieces of that never would have made it into an outline because you had not lived with the characters. Of course, you need to have a beginning and an end before you start, but if you can discipline yourself to write to the zones in your plot then you may discover a more exciting, page turning, and story than you ever imagined. You have to ask yourself if writing freestyle is the best way to keep your readers engaged. For me, it seems to be the best way.
D.J. Williams for the past sixteen years has worked in the non-profit and entertainment industry. He has produced media projects that have raised awareness to help those in need. With the DNA of a world traveler, Williams was born in Hong Kong, has ventured into the jungles of the Amazon, the bush of Africa, and the slums of the Far East, to share stories of those who are overcoming incredible odds. His first novel, The Disillusioned, released in May 2013. As an Executive Producer, Producer, and Director, Williams is part of a production team that have collectively produced and/or written over 400 episodes of broadcast television for SONY, The F/X Network, The Game Show Network, FOX Family, FOX Television Studios, Spike TV, NBC, ABC, and various cable networks worldwide. Currently they are the Creators and Executive Producers for shows in development with VIMBY (A Mark Burnett Company), Michael Maloy, Executive Producer of Extreme Home Makeover, and Australian Food and Entertainment celebrity, Nerida Conway. Facebook:

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