So you’ve got your story idea together right? You’ve started building your characters and molding and shaping their personalities? Now it’s time to decide whether you are a pantser or a planner when it comes to writing your novel. What’s a pantser, you ask? Well that’s when you are fortunate enough to be able to just sit down at the blank screen of your laptop and begin writing with no plot or course of action laid out before you. If you are one of those writers let me please just give you a virtual round of applause because I have tried writing that way before and the amount of time I had to use up to go back and forth to see if I had this detail or that detail just right, or to check the timeline and make sure that I hadn’t made some huge error and it just did not work for me.
I, like a lot of writers, am a planner and I try as much as I can to plan out every detail that I can. In terms of writing my novel I have realized that I have to have an outline. I typically do a short brief outline with just some of the major points of the story and where the plot twists are and the dramatic parts and the whodunit aspects of the story. After I get a general outline together then I take my character sketches and I begin the more detailed, chapter by chapter, plot twist by plot twist, part of outlining.
Now I think there’s a misconception that when people outline they follow the outline to the tee and I have heard a lot of people say that’s what they don’t like about outlining but the outline is just a general road map for you to follow but the story almost never follows the outline down to the letter. In fact I almost never stick directly to the outline but having that outline does help me stay more on track then I would if I were just writing without a blueprint.
Where the outlining process can get a little broad and diverse is in the method in which you choose to outline. I for one like just getting a legal notepad and writing my outline by hand (this and the character sketches are the only things I write by hand). The other methods of outlining that people typically use are creating a storyboard with a bulletin board or you can storyboard in a digital format now with Pintrest or whatever digital format works for you to create a visual idea of your story. Some people choose to do a graphing (or mind mapping) method. There are also programs that will help you outline in a particular digital format such as Scrivener.
Now you don’t have to outline in order to compose a good story for NaNoWriMo. Outlining doesn’t necessarily make your story any worse or better. Like I said in my last post, it’s just a matter of finding and doing what works well for you. I hope that some of this information helps you and the next post I will be giving you a few YouTue channels that I think you should check out that will help you in your Preptober adventures. Until next time… #HappyOutlining