Hello, people !
For a long time, I couldn’t finish a single one of my stories, diving into them without a precise plan of attack only to see them go down the tubes.
Then, college getting in the way, I had to put my novel fantasies on hold while I worked on my thesis, and it was actually the first time I succeded in finishing a work over a 100 pages. And to do so, I had to do an outline.
So I decided to do the same for the tetralogy I had in mind, and in this article, I explain exactly how I did that.
First of all, I would like to say that the method that works is the one that inspires you and helps you to write, there’s no way around it, no magical formula. Some articles written about this give great advice, and can of course help aspiring writers. But if it doesn’t work for you, you’re not defective. Some of you don’t need an outline, and there’s no need to bother doing one when you think you can go without.
For others, on the other hand (and I’m unfortunate enough to be one of those), the mind is pulled in so many different directions that the main thread of your story just goes and does the same, destroying any work done. In this cas, yes, you do need an plot outline.
I use a digital medium,
I’m sure inspiration doesn’t come to everyone the same way, but when, like for me, it comes in flashes of images and scenes, I find a digital medium more useful than paper.
The ideas we get rarely go one after the other. It would be too good. When I write in my outline about the punch received by a dumbass who had the bad idea to piss off my heroine, most of the time, I still don’t know what the bad idea is.
When I finally know, on a software like Word, Evernote, or even in a draft in my inbox, I can easily go back and put the events in chronological order. It helps me organize my ideas.
[Evernote is handy in that you can upload the same account on two different devices, more with the paid version, and synchroniza the notes between the two. I had one on my computer and one on my phone, which allowed me to add to them or change things in public transport or during my break at work, et find them once home on my computer without having to copy them]
I write the sentences as soon as they come to mind,
And I do that automatically, whether I know or not where exactly that sentence is come to go in my story.
If I find it notable, if I like it, I know I’m going to forget it, then come to the passage I have to write it into, remember I have the perfect sentence for that, and not be able to find it again.
Sometimes, I can even write entire dialogues if they come to me. That way, I don’t lose them, and I don’t have to write them afterward.
Somtimes they come to me in english (when of course, I write in french) and I cry to find a french translation that will give me the same effect.
I have documents ready for the outlines of the possible sequels,
Because I have a tendency to make sagas.
When I have an idea and I think it is more fitting in a following book, I write it down in the corresponding document, even if this is not the outline I am currently working on.
Because the more you work on a book’s outline, the more what’s going to happen in the following books becomes clear, the opposite being equally true. When an idea that fits the sequels come from nowhere, from the moment we decide to keep it, it helps us stage the actual book better, like foreshadowing (big fan of foreshadowing here) future events, which gives a better flow to your story.
Plus, writing the idea down, embeding it, in a way, where it’s supposed to be chronologically, helps resist the tentation of bringing it into the story too early because we like it too much (a problem I used to encounter a lot before I started making plot outlines).
I always have a notebook close by,
A lot of articles on the subject advise to write on paper at first, because it helps concentrate, without the Internet to distract us and cut a potential bout of creativity short. I undertand completely, consedering the depressing number of times I ended my night in a Pinterest or Wikipedia spiral.
If I tend to prefer a digital medium, paper is great when you need to focus on only one thing, and is alway useful for creating diagrams that often help us along in our story, like a chronology, for exemple.
So that’s about it! This is basically what my writing process looks like, I hope it helped some of you!
Have a nice day!!