Like much of writing, creating an outline is completely up to how you want to do it. There are as many methods of outlining as there are styles of writing. The good news is, there is no right or wrong way. The important thing to remember is that an outline is meant to be a loose guide, not a strict roadway that you are forbidden to divert from. In fact, I highly encourage you to divert and allow the story to organically move in the direction it needs to move, to a point. Whatever you write~be it in the outline or outside of it~has to be important to the plot, character, or development of the story. Everything in your novel should have a reason.
Here is how I do it. I start my outline before I start my novel because it helps inspire me. A lot of people think using an outline limits your story but it doesn't do that to mine. It actually helps my story expand and grow into something even better than I had planned. I start with the main point I want to cover in the first chapter, then I list bullet points of things I want to touch on in that chapter.
I cover all the points that will come into play later or that bare weight on the story. This leaves me a lot of room to expand or shrink things as needed. I write the entire outline in this manner. I write in pencil, allowing myself room for error, and I use the margins to jot down even more things I want to cover. For those of you who outline, how do you like to do it? And how do you think it benefits you?
I'm still in awe of pansters.ReplyDelete
I'm a plot/outline chick and I must do this phase before I start writing. However, I leave it open where if something changes (and it always does), I go back and revise the outline.
Me too, on both counts! I used to be a pantser though and it only made my editing process longer and harder. I'll never go back. ;)Delete
Wow, it's different for everyone. I'm somewhere in between. I like to know my protagonist well first, and then I need to understand what happens to her that turns her life upside down (the inciting incident). I also like to know how the story's likely to end (but THAT can change), and what the climax is likely to be, and I write from there. But guess what? I finally found what may be the perfect use of a full outline a la what Bill Bernhardt taught us to do in Hawaii (write a few words to describe each scene of the entire book, one scene per index card, for a total of around 60, plus or minus): once I have a completed first draft, that's the perfect time for me to outline scene-by-scene, then toss, add, and generally mix it up to create a more complex, exciting book.ReplyDelete
I love that you outline after the first draft Linda, that's interesting. And you're right, it's different for everyone. Finding what works for us is the key.Delete
Heather, I definitely outline. I get the story idea and write out the purpose of each chapter... that is my outline. Of course I allow it to flow as I move along, enabling it to shift and change form as needed, but the outline is my flight plan for success. The best thing it does, it enables me to get the idea down so I don't forget what I want to happen. Now my outline is sitting waiting for me to write. Then I come to a chapter and know what that was going to be about. I can write it. In this initial stage, I can pick up any chapter and write it. Not contingent upon the others.But in sequence for the big plan.ReplyDelete
That sounds a lot like my method. It does help things flow along a lot quicker, doesn't it?Delete