Tag Archives | how to outline

My oh-so-scientific approach to outlining.

O is for Outlining

My life is one big outline.

I love outlines like I love soft serve vanilla ice cream with sprinkles in the summer. And beach pizza.

I write outlines for every book I write.

I have several outlines for stories I never wrote. It’s not because I lost the creativity or spark once I had the outline. Usually, it’s because the plot wasn’t right yet so I had to take a step back and re-evaluate. And then ideas I’m more passionate about take their place.

Steps in my outlining process:

  • I scribble down a bunch of ideas in a notebook. I free write. Jot a bunch of what ifs. Then leave it. I’m usually working on another project so that’s okay. It simmers in the background.
  • I purposefully nap, hoping for bigger ideas in the form of dreams. #hasn’thappenedyet
  • Formulate the blurb or logline. I try and nail down the heart of my story. The main conflict. The main antagonist. The setting. Stuff like that. #i’msoscientific
  • Research a bit if needed. Sometimes history produces the best stories.
  • Nail down the major plot points: inciting incident, Lock-in, midpoint, dark moment, climax.
  • Start at the beginning and write a one or two sentence summary of what might happen in each scene.
  • After I have my outline, I check it against what I know about structure and make sure it doesn’t need tweaking.   #yesi’manoutlinenerd

But I do all this so I start off in the right direction. In my current wip I ended up changing a lot. The guy I thought was a co-protagonist turned out to be somewhat of an antagonist. Motivations changed. Backstory needed to be fixed. Secondary characters were fleshed out. Subplots needed to be fixed to fit with story.

But the heart of my story stayed the same. I didn’t know exactly how the climax would end until I got there and knew the story better. I still had lots of flexibility.

My creativity works best within the confines of an outline.

But that’s me. Tomorrow is all about pantsing. So if you’re a pantser be prepared to share in the comments! Curious minds want to know.

Any outlining tips to share? What works best for you?

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