Thursday, March 6, 2014

Guest Post: To Outline or Not

  In my quest to continue improving the writing around here when I was approached by Grammarly about a guest post I opened the door wide and said come on in. Hope you find the following as interesting as I did.

To Outline or Not to Outline
Through my research of how writers actually craft their work, I’ve noticed there is no trend when it comes to outlining. Some writers love outlining and believe they can’t start their work until they have a good solid idea of where they’re characters are going, what their motivations are, and what’s going to happen in the end. Other writers believe that outlining stops the creative process and doesn’t allow them to come to realizations naturally. Meaning they feel as if they are forcing the story and characters to perform rather than come to fruition through the circumstances of the story. Each writer has their own process and choosing to heavily outline, lightly outline, or fall somewhere in between, the only right way to create your story is the way that works best for your creative process. However, there are sites and sources that can aid in the writing and organizing of your story and help strengthen your own set of skills. Whether you’re fully committed to outlining or you hate it with a passion, there are tons of resources to help you create your story, outline, or streamline your ideas.

One of the best resources to use is Grammarly due to its comprehensive and adaptive tools, teaching elements, grammar check, plagiarism checker, and large customer service base. The grammar check in particular has over 250 points of grammar with which to check your work. Its adaptive tools cater to your style and pick up your most common mistakes while the teaching services can improve your skills and adapt to your needs. Many writers I’ve talked to like to use the context-optimized synonym generator when outlining. They use it come up with tons of words to use to describe their main characters, events, setting, weather, or other elements. It helps diversify their descriptions and bring fresh words into their word bank. If you’ve moved beyond just the outlining process, Grammarly’s tools can also read through your work and identify areas that need improvement instantly. If you’re one of those writers who loves to write on the go, in a coffee shop, or at your favorite inspiration park, Grammarly can follow you there. It can be accessed from any device, therefore making it easy to type your next paragraph on your tablet and check it for errors in a snap. Grammarly can help any writer from start to finish, even if you’re not the most graceful outliner.

Outlining is a heavily debated topic on many writing forums, in books, and even between famous authors. Some believe you can’t write a fleshed-out story without planning every single detail beforehand. Others think that outlining impedes the writing process and stops them from starting on their story. On the one hand, outlining provides a stable source to return to if writer’s block clogs your cogs. Outlines show a clear motivation for characters, a picture of the landscape, and why the events are taking place in the way they are. But are they too controlling? Do they make you feel as if you are forced to write whatever you wrote down three months ago? Do they take the fun completely out of writing? That’s for writers to decide for themselves. Both methods have their pluses and minuses, ups and downs, and opportunities for creative breakthroughs. But regardless of what your favorite writer suggested or what that article you read last week claimed about successful writing processes, you have to do what works best for your creative mind. For help along the way, though, there are tons of online resources for grammar checks, plagiarism detectors, synonym generators, and overall writing tools like Grammarly to guide you to a successful manuscript.

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

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