Outlining is so scary.
Or, at least I thought so, I swore I would never do it and used all the arguments.
“It stifles creativity!”
“I can’t think that far ahead!”
“It has to just come to me.”
I thought outlining had to be done just a certain way. That if you didn’t complete the formula just right, you’d fail.
But I came to realize, that outlining is just like nearly everything else in this world. It’s NOT a one-size-fits-all thing that works the same for everyone. So I will share with you what I do and hope to encourage you that it is worth giving a try.
My outlining process is very minimalistic compared to some of the extensive outlining I have seen done. I always felt that with outlining, then writing a book, it was almost as if you are writing it twice. So I tried to keep it simple and manageable for a scaredy-cat like me.
~ Step 1 ~
First, I write “the back of the book” synopsis of the story. You know, the super “cliffs-note” version. I write it all out in about 4 paragraphs. The only difference between this and what would be on the back of the book is that I include the ending.
~ Step 2 ~
I then do a chapter guide which, looks like this.
Chapter No, I name them, and have a quick 2 sentence description of what happens in that chapter. I do the whole book this way. And I have written things before just stopping at step two.l But I know I needed more for my novel. There was too much mystery and suspense going on to just “pants” it and not have a disaster.
~ Step 3 ~
After getting character backstories and sketches down, I move into phase 3. More intensive outlining. I actually go through each chapter and outline each scene. Again, I don’ go into every detail all the time, but I give a clear enough picture of what happens so when I start writing I don’t have to worry about how it will fit together because it already does. Here is a picture of my outline of Chapter one for my novel.
I hope that helped. that is what I do with writing an Outline. Again, outlining is something you need to tailor to your own needs. But I have found it extremely beneficial and helpful!
1 ~ I don’t have to worry about the nitty gritty plot points as they have already been hashed out.
2 ~ It gives me a little more order and less confusion.
3 ~ I am assured of my ending.
4 ~ It makes the secondary creativity of dialogue and description smoother and easier.
5 ~ My writing is a lot more coherent.
If you are interested in a more in-depth look at Outlining, you can check out K. M. Weiland’s book Outlining Your Novel. I haven’t read the whole thing myself, but several friends told me it was great and I thought it bore mentioning.
What do you think about outlining? Ever given it a try? Love it or hate it? Why?
By God’s Grace,