I know we each have our own style of creating book ideas, coming up with characters and settings, and some even do outlines…like me! But this second book in the Matt Kemp series doesn’t want to even get off the ground, and it’s all because of my outline.
I’m curious, how important is an outline to each of you?
What An Outline Should Be
I’m an outliner, I like to know where I’m going and how I’m getting there. An outline helps me defined the main plot points in a story:
- The rising incident or action – what is the conflict or obstacle that gets the story moving?
- The Climax – what is that ultimate struggle that shows the protagonist winning or losing?
- The falling incident or action – how do I wrap everything up to end the story?
Outlines help me structure a story. The let me build from chapter to chapter, scene by scene. They put a framework around my story that allows me to see what’s happening and when it’s happening. And there’s a joy to creating an outline, watching your story reveal itself, that helps you keep your motivation to write the book.
Of course, I’m also a “pantser” (someone who works with no or little outline). On many occasions while I’ve been writing the characters have said, “This should happen next.” And seldom are they wrong so I let them write the story, too.
But I can always see where we’re going, it’s the journey that’s the adventure.
A More Detailed Outline
With this, my third book, I’m trying something different for an outline, something more detailed and structured and that all the gurus say works. I’ve broken it down as follows (taken from “The Snowflake Method”:
This looked like something I could use and so I gave it a try…it worked…but the program I’m using (Scrivener) is causing me all kinds of headaches. Two things:
- I will learn Scrivener because it’s an incredible writing program for someone like me who likes to outline.
- I shall ignore this part of Scrivener for now so I can clear my mind (my creativity) so I can write…which is more important.
So no, I won’t actually chuck my outline but I will be putting everything I’ve drafted so far into one document so I can split my screen like Scrivener allows and type in one column while I follow along with my outline. And the great thing about this is that I can continue to add to it as my story grows and takes me in directions that I couldn’t see coming when I first created the outline.
How about you? Do you have any outline woes that you could share?
All I can recommend is that the most important thing to writing is to write. Don’t get so bogged down in a “cool program” or “10 steps” to writing a successful novel. Find what works for you and write, write…and write some more.