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Monday, August 22, 2011

The Belated Outline

I’m Tracey Neithercott, and you’re listening to 94.5 Writing FM. This one’s going out to all those pantsters out there.

We’re here talking about the belated outline, and it’s of particular importance to people who, as the kids are calling it these days, “pants” their way through a first draft. For those of you not familiar with the language of the cool writing cats, pantsers start a book without an outline, writing their way through the story until they hit the end.

Here at 94.5 Writing FM, we’re familiar with the pantsting way of life. In fact, Bob, weren’t you a pantster in the ’60s? I remember the trouble you got into with that.

Well, folks, that’s just the problem with pansting. As soon as you’re on your merry way you hit The End and realize the amount of revising you need to do. It’s a hard-knock life for a panster, but our guest today has a way to beat the post-pantsting blues.

Dr. Ican Dothis, thank you for joining us. We’re talking about the belated outline, and we have some callers on the line who have some questions for you. Let’s go to the first caller. “Hello?”
CALLER: “Yes.”

94.5 WRITING FM: “Hi and welcome to 94.5 Writing FM’s Panster Hour. Tell us your name and your question for Dr. Dothis.”

CALLER: “Yes. Well, my name is Imma Killmyself, and I’d like to know what the belated outline is.”

DR. DOTHIS: “Of course. The belated outline—or, as I like to call it, a boutline—is just like a regular outline, but you fill it out after you finish your first draft.”

94.5 WRITING FM: “Thanks Imma. Caller number two, you’re on with Dr. Dothis.”

CALLER: “Hi Dr. Dothis, this is Hel P. Mee and I’m a huge fan. How much detail should I put into my, uh, boutline?”

DR. DOTHIS: “As much as you think will be useful to you. A more filled-out online will be helpful if you decide to move sections around. It’ll also help you determine how the chapters flow, whether the pacing is spot-on or fatally flawed.”

94.5 WRITING FM: “All right, folks, our phone lines are lighting up like a Christmas tree, but we only have time for one more caller. Number 3, you’re on with Dr. Dothis.”

CALLER: “Hi, Dr. Dothis. I just wanted to thank you for saving my life. I was a mess, living for chocolate and coffee and nothing else until I saw you on Oprah. You changed my life.”

DR. DOTHIS: “Well, you’re quite welcome. Best of luck with your boutline.”

94.5 WRITING FM: “It’s been a pleasure having you here Dr. Dothis. Do you have any parting words of wisdom for our listeners?”

DR. DOTHIS: “Revision is a part of the writing process wither you outline or jump right in. If diving in with only a nugget of an idea can help you get the words down, then there’s nothing wrong with that. But many a writer had been lead astray by characters who fill their author’s brain with nonsense. And that’s where the boutline comes in. It reins in the story so needless subplots or meandering text can be brought to light and snuffed out.

Reading a book as a whole is one thing, but when it comes to revising a first draft, creating an outline based on that draft just ensures the pieces fit together properly. And during revisions, it’s much easier to rearrange a boutline than refer to the text time and again.”
 Sage words form the foremost expert in belated outlines, Dr. Ican Dothis.

Our lines are open and we want to hear from you: Do you outline at any time during the process? How do you edit the very first draft of a new story?

Thanks for joining us today for the Panster Hour. Sit back, relax, and let the words flow.

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