Guys! NaNoWriMo is happening in ONE WEEK! So… I am now writing a post about how I outline instead of finishing my outline… Yes, it’s counterproductive. Just go with it! This is the first time I’ve actually attempted to outline an entire novel. I used to be a hardcore pantser for the simple fact that having to outline analytical essays for school ruined me on the idea of outlining my own writing. And then the first year of NaNowriMo happened… I sat down on November 1st, typed out 35000 words, (a winning number since I did the YWP), and found out that my story had NO plot when I attempted to read back over it. That is now a project that we do not speak of, and it resides in the “stuff I don’t need now” folder on my desktop. If you’ve read this post, you know that this year’s NaNo project is majorly complicated and has a few different narrating characters, and after attempting to write a coherent synopsis, I decided that there was no way around it… I was gonna have to outline. I watched a ton of youtube videos about how different people outline, and I made my process based off of about ten different videos. It’s worked so far, (except for the small fact that I only have a week to put scenes in order and keep up with school work), so I thought I’d share it! *Note: My process for the book is very complex, requires lots of thought, has a few possibly redundant steps, and is going to make me look like the crazy person I am!
- Make a Dropbox folder for your project. I put it in Dropbox because it syncs like magic across my laptop, iPad, and phone, which means I can work on it discreetly at family functions if necessary! For now, the folder is just going to contain some notes in normal Word docs, but it’ll eventually contain my Scrivener project so I can still work in Scrivener on my IOS devices! If you didn’t already know, Scrivener got an IOS app, and it is possibly the best thing I’ve ever put on my iPad.
- Make a file called “Word Barf.” That IS the exact name of this document. Sound disgusting? It is. I pretty much just write down every single detail about my characters, the world, the setting, the plot, who has a blood fude with who and why, which royal families are allies and which will kill each other on sight, why this character is terrified of spiders, why another character never tells lies, a secret being kept from someone about a certain thing for what reason, and you get the picture… It is NOT a pretty file, and the next step is going to make you want to scream because it involves THAT file!
- Go through the “Word Barf” file and pick out every major plot event that could possibly actually happen in the story and isn’t just an insane thought that occurred at 4 AM! Yeah… That was fun… I should’ve probably just written down plot events in a different file as soon as I wrote them in the “Word Barf,” but that would’ve disrupted my brainstorm! They don’t have to be in order at this point, but just get all those good plot events separated out from the crazy!
- Look through the plot points and figure out where big wholes are. Then fill said big whole with other plot points. Note: This may be easier to do in the next step, but I didn’t think the first time.
- Write all those lovely plot points on index cards!!! Or… You could just print that file out and cut them up. 😉
- This is where the fun really begins! Start moving all those cards around until you get them in the perfect order! “But, Cheyenne,” you say, “I thought you loved Scrivener! Couldn’t you just do that in Scrivener?!” NO! Scrivener’s great for writing, but try dragging 107 scenes, (yes, I actually have that many), around on virtual index cards! It doesn’t work… Unless you’re reeeeeally good at remembering where stuff was when the screen scrolls down…
- Put the organized plot points on some sort of mostly permanent structure… I started out on a giant cork board, but it wasn’t big enough, so now they’re all taped to a trifold poster-board… Trust me… You’re gonna want to do this step because they WILL get shuffled around if you don’t, and then you will be very angry! Also, keep the cat/dog out of the room until you’ve got them stuck to something!
- Type all those plot points up in a new file, just in case something happens to the cards, or you just wanna work when you don’t have them. like at that family function I mentioned earlier!
- Put those typed plot points in your novel notebook, if you have such a notebook. This is one of those things that I said might be redundant since you have them typed already, but I’m the kind of person who has to have everything in a notebook even though it is stored digitally because I don’t like flipping between multiple files or programs.
- I told you I’m crazy! Put all of those plot points in Scrivener!!! I do all of my writing in Scrivener because I like to write by scene, and it is really handy to have the plot point for each scene nicely written in the notes section for each file so I know exactly what i’m going to write next. See! There is a method to my madness!!! You also need to put your character/setting/government info from the “Word Barf” in a Word doc, your notebook, and the character and research sections in Scrivener! Maybe those first two steps are redundant to some, but I gotta have a hard copy before it goes into Scrivener. My brain just won’t operate the other way! I was going to make the character and setting thing the next number, but then I wouldn’t have anything to go after it, and I also cannot stand to stop on an uneven number!!!
And There You Have It!
That is my outlining process simplified! NOT Feel free to adapt this process to suit you, and youTube “novel planning” if you think i’m completely crazy and that process makes you want to run far, far away from this blog… Please don’t run from me! I’m mostly harmless! I’d love to know how you outline in the comments, and feel free to link me to your blog if you’ve done a similar post. Also, are you ready for NaNo! Still planning? Have no idea what you’re even writing about? Let’s chat in comments! From Cheyenne 🙂
4 thoughts on “How I Outline: (Yes, I Am A Crazy Person)”
I love this, I totally need to try it myself! I’m more of a plantser, I do plot but I have no ideas for stories so all the more rewriting for me ;-; I love the cards idea though, will try it!
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I usually get my characters first and end up forming a plot around them, and the cards have really helped me because it highlights all the gaping plot holes before they happen in the draft. And I’d almost call myself a plantser too because nothing ever happens in order! 😂
This is such a great post!! Definitely need to try this out! x
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Thanks! 😊 I hope you like it once you put it into practice!
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