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Are you surprised that Stephen King doesn’t outline his plots?

Jonny Diamond

June 7, 2021, 11:11am

Depending on who you talk to* it may or may not be a surprise that Stephen King doesn’t outline the plots of his books, and instead just jumps in and writes. As he reveals in this Wall Street Journal interview,

The thing is, I don’t outline, I don’t have whole plots in my head in advance. So I’m really happy if I know what’s going to happen tomorrow, which I do, as a matter of fact, I know what’s going to happen in the novel I’m working on. And that’s enough.

Maybe that’s the key to having such a prolific writing career (King is the author of over 60 books), just putting words on the page. It is not uncommon for writers to get caught up in building the perfect outline, in what can amount to a very ornate way of procrastinating; granted, a useful form of procrastination, but at what level of detail does an outline become the book itself? Sometimes you just have to start writing to see where things will go.

Further shocking revelations from this interview include the fact King does not drink coffee and prefers cranberry La Croix. More importantly, though (other writers take note!), when he sits down to work for his daily four-hour stretch, from 8:30am to 12:30pm, King does so with a dog at his feet (presumably un-possessed).

In conclusion, every writer is different and will need different things in order to get the work done.

*I haven’t read much Stephen King since I was teenager, but I am informed by grown-up professional writers that perhaps a bit more outlining might actually help his plotting.

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