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 🙂
This tag was created by Cait @ Paper fury, and I believe i missed the deadline for the link-up due to school happenings, but I decided to go on and do it to give you guys a better glimpse of my NaNoWriMo project.
- What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
Uhhh… I hate telling people where i get my inspiration because I usually either don’t know, or it comes from a conglomeration of things that really seem like they shouldn’t go together and definitely shouldn’t form a coherent story idea! BUT… here it goes. The name of my current project is Wishes, which you guys have seen me talk about a lot on this blog, but i’m thinking of giving it a title switch to Unseeable. I’ve had the idea floating around in my head, and I honestly have no idea what originally sparked it. I think Harry Potter probably had an influence, and then it majorly morphed away from that, and the song Demons by Imagine dragons played a big part, and also some personal life events that I am not going to get into… It’s complicated, ok! Explaining this is like trying to explain how my brain works… It’s WAY easier said than done…
- Describe what your novel is about.
Here’s my one sentence summary that is subject to change: A group of children struggle to find themselves in a world that rejects their true nature, and eventually reject their royal blood and magical heritage to follow the way of the ancient power.
And… Here’s the longer synopsis that I posted to nanowrimo.org:
This world is not made for them, or perhaps they are not made for this world. They have never been anything but “abnormal,” because they are the only ones with their eyes open enough to see the truth. They cannot blend in with all the royals, because their natures will not allow them to play their twisted games of power. They are shamans,, able to see through all the lies woven by the mist-born court. Their just children, really, each born with a gift, (or a curse), as some might call it. But they are strong, and they are wise, and they will fight for truth!
Nico Deverow can see the unseen, and yet he cannot see the one thing that might make it all worth it: his parents who died when he was only three. There is darkness inside him, and he can no longer numb it enough to keep from shattering. Adam has a light inside him, a star in stark contrast to his sisters cruel beauty. He only wants to heal, but perhaps he cannot heal one who does not wish to be healed. Ela is fire and ice together, constantly fighting a battle within her own heart. Diana just wants to be the golden girl-the perfect princess, the Bishop heir, at council gatherings and the innocently pure shaman at Adam’s side. Each of them has a purpose, because nothing is ever done without purpose, even in the Royal Court.
- What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or pictures or whatever you like!
My book is dark… Very dark… I don’t usually write stuff this dark, but it’s coming out that way, and I kinda love it! People throw daggers, and there are some mental health factors, and yeah… But it all comes out ok!
- Introduce us to each of your characters.
I have a LOT of characters! It’s got three, possibly four, narrating characters, and then there’s a whole royal court of side characters! But I’ll introduce you to my favorites…
Nico Devero: The story begins here, or more accurately, it begins ten years in the past when he lost his parents. Nico doesn’t know where he belongs in the world. He can’t seem to open up to anyone, and he has secrets that nobody can ever know about his family. He can see people’s aura’s, read their emotions through touch, and see everything that has ever happened in a place by reading the energetic signature left by tragic events. He has scars on his wrists, and scars on his heart, and the only way to live with everything he knows is to numb it, to fade it all out with a magical drug that has yet to be named.
Adam: Adam is a healer, and he can also sense emotions through touch. He’s a drifter, passed from caretaker to caretaker after his father died and he was left in the care of the shaman circuit. His dream is to be like his father, a healer and a peacekeeper, but eventually he starts to wonder if some people are beyond help or healing.
Diana Bishop: Diana is the middle child of Susanie and Robert Bishop. She and her brother, Randy, are destined to take the royal seat for their bloodline as soon as they are of age. She works hard to maintain a good reputation, but that’s hard to do when her twin sister, Ela, is involved. Diana struggles to find where she belongs. She has a connection to Adam, and she desperately wants to be his golden girl. But she can’t be his golden girl and keep her royal ties.
Daniela bishop: Ela is Diana’s twin, younger by seven minutes. She’s got storm magic, healing abilities, and the occasional empathic tendency. She hates the royals, and therefore her own heritage. Somehow she falls in with the cheerleaders and the partiers, and discovers ways of losing herself. She constantly fights with her sister, struggles with her own identity, and longs for a way to contain the power swirling inside her.
Raquel and Damon Blackthorn: Raquel and Damon are Aunt and Uncle to the Bishop siblings. They still hold places in the royal council, but they’ve given up most of their blood rights in order to open a school for “troubled” children. these are the children who cannot seem to mold their powers to meet the royal academic standards–the shaman born. They will be the link that brings everyone together, and sets the story in motion.
- How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc?)
This story is the first that I’ve ever outlined, and I don’t think I would be able to write it without having done that. It’s super complicated, as you can probably tell by my characters, and there’s a dual timeline thing going on in some places. I got majorly confused trying to figure out how all these awesome characters were going to meet, and then the outline came to be! It makes sense now, so I’ve made the possibly insane decision to do it for NaNo… I have done quite a lot of research as well because I have NO experience with some of the psychological issues being explored! I’m dealing with ADHD, dyslexia, OCD, and self-harm, and I have none of those… If you could help me out with that, I would really appreciate it… You can shoot me an email if you don’t wanna comment publicly. 🙂 I’ve also got a new notebook, a chocolate stash, and plenty of coffee! Thankfully no howling has occurred yet! It’s still a possibility though…
- What are you most looking forward to about your novel?
My characters!!! I LOVE my characters!!! Especially Nico’s point of view!
- List three things about your novel’s setting.
My story takes place in the modern world, with today’s geographical layout. I don’t think I’m going to have any normal humans, just mist born and shamans. And… Ummm… The Gateway Arch may or may not be turned into a magical power source/council gathering place???
- What’s your character’s goal, and who or what stands in the way?
Uhhh! Which character?! I guess they all want to find a peaceful balance between the shamans and the royal council, and the royals are opposing them. Also there are going to be several betrayals by people who my main characters think are on their side, and I purposefully did not describe those traitors because spoilers!
- How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
We’re just gonna call Nico my protagonist… By the end of the book, he’s found some people he can trust, and he’s well on his way to becoming a shaman.
- What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
As I’ve mentioned, my story is pretty dark. But it has a theme of strength, trust, and courage throughout it. At the end, I want readers to be happy about where my characters ended their journey, but be left wanting something more because I hope to turn this into a series.