I know, I know… not everyone outlines. Even the people who DO outline all tend to have completely different definitions of an outline.
My outlines are really more of a guide. I don’t follow a numbering system, I write in paragraph form, and I summarize the action. It guides me from point A to B to C yet still allows me a lot of room for changes. While I need to know what’s going to happen, I rarely know the specifics–or how it’s going to happen–until I’m writing.
I’m working with comments from a couple people–including myself–and I’ve been having a hard time organizing my thoughts. I have a really good memory and often rely on the fact that I’ll just remember, but I want this to be seamless. Also, it seems like I’m adding a lot more smaller details–kind of mini-subplots–that require bits and pieces spread throughout the story. That’s a bigger task than I’ve tackled before.
It occured to me that I could utilize the fantabulous outline I put together before I started writing After the Fall to streamline this process, and it’s worked far better than I had hoped. Technically I’m rewriting the outline (toggling between the two documents) and noting where new stuff needs to go, as well as noting things that need to change.
(Is this boring? I feel like I’m over-explaining but I always enjoy reading about other writers’ processes and if this is helpful to one person then I’ll be happy.)
With that said, here’s how I do it:
Greg wakes up to find a masked man attacking Becca in her room. They fight, and when the police arrive they discover the man isn’t breathing. Then they remove his mask and find out it’s his neighbor – and best friend – Tom Stevens. ADD sense of coldness towards Janet in the opening paragraph when mentioning her arm or when he’s about to leave the room.
Greg finishes talking to the police and tries to come to terms with what just happened – with what he did. ADD moment of guilt about what he did to Carol and the kids. CHECK – would they have to leave the house or would they be allowed to stay there? Tries to sleep as he waits for Janet and Becca to get home, then talks to Janet in the kitchen before leaving for the police station. ADD Becca gets a text but we don’t know who from. Greg asks who it’s from and she looks away and says it’s just a friend asking if she’s okay.
This story has three POVs but I stuck with one so as not to give too much away (bwahahahaha). In my Word document the red text is black and highlighted yellow so it REALLY stands out. Red is kinda scary to me sometimes.
Anyway, doing it this way will allow me to see everything all at once instead of refering to a thousand scraps of paper like I did on my last novel. It’s also serving as a tool to check character arcs, track the plot, and see which chapters may need a kick in the pants (there’s a looooooooot of talking).
Now I just have to figure out how to print this bad boy. My parents have a wireless printer and my iMac doesn’t have wireless capability. I know my netbook does, I just need to figure it out. Yes, I know this is a bit ridiculous–I’ve solved the outline/plot problem but I can’t print the damned thing!
So… do you outline? Does this sound like pointless busywork? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?