A Writer’s Notes #38

Here are differing views that may be of interest to writers and readers alike. In his excellent book Writing the Blockbuster Novel, Albert Zuckerman says, in his way-too-long chapter on the outline process: “…there are authors who commence a novel without first working up and outline. Outlines, they say, cramp their creativity…take the joy out of writing…deny them the possibility of making wonderful discoveries that come to them only while they’re setting down the novel itself. My surmise is that few writers who talk this way ever see their books on the bestseller list.” But Jonathan Franzen sees it differently: “If you try to outline the whole thing in advance, it’s just dead…Above all, you have to be willing to listen when the pages are telling you that what you are planning to do is simply not working.” This may well be a personality test rather than a writing process. Me? I’m in the Franzen school.

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