Before you ever put words to paper, it is vital that you have some kind of outline. It doesn’t matter if it’s a few character sheets or a few notes on what you want to do with your story, but it’s important to know where your story is going. This outline then becomes a finished novel, and you’ve just completed a project using a process that is undoubtedly unique to you.
The writing process is a very interesting thing. Every writer’s process is going to be different somehow. George R. R. Martin, from my understanding, writes his novels without a real outline. Others, like Brandon Sanderson, rely heavily on an outline.
Personally, I’m somewhere in the hybrid area of this spectrum. I write brief outlines, then rewrite them several times, until I have something that looks like a movie script. That’s when I write the story like a novel. So, I outline and I discovery write both at the same time.
The main point is this: learn what your process is and stick to it. That’s how you’re going to most effectively produce stories on a regular basis.
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