To outline or to “fly by the seat of your pants”.. that is the question

Some of us in life like to start off our day by creating a “to do” list containing everything from checking emails first thing in the morning to fitting in biceps and triceps at the gym, to picking up groceries on our way home and then,conversely, there are others of us who prefer to just “wing it” and see where the day takes us.
I have to commend anyone who makes it through their day without the “to do” list and still manages to accomplish everything they were supposed to do by the day’s end because I know, as a type A personality, I would be the one who finally falls into bed at the end of the day only to suddenly remember I left my youngest son waiting for me at football practice where I was supposed to pick him up an hour ago!
Writers tend to either be the type to create outlines before beginning their novel or they’re the type to just “fly by the seat of their pants” and hope by the time they reach the end of the story they remained faithful to their characters and plot while managing to thread the theme all the way through. Because if they failed to do that, chances are they may fall in to bed at the end of the day and suddenly realize they left the protagonist hanging somewhere still waiting to be picked up!
As James Scott Bell said in his January 2013 Writer’s Digest article, “Even good stories can crumble if they don’t have strong framework”. At some point, writers will likely need to structure what they have written even if they chose not to outline first. Otherwise, they increase the risk of their story falling apart like a tall building in the process of being built with no foundation or scaffolding to hold it up.
Just as a “to do” list helps me to prepare for my day and keeps me focused and on track, making sure that my son gets home safely at an appropriate time before I retire for bed, the outline assures the writer that he gets his characters home- to the end of the story in an appropriate way.
To outline or to fly by the seat of the pants- that is the question… and only the writer can decide which works best!

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