The word “outline” will send any pantser running for a bag of M&M’s and a bottle of wine. Yet I knew I had to figure out a way to work this into my writing. Step 1 was using a calendar to keep track of the events and make sure my timeline remained accurate (so I didn’t end up with everything happening on a Tuesday and six Fridays in a month). I tried adding brief notes to the days but it wasn’t working – I needed up with a mess. I’d put down an event and then realized something had to happen first, etc.
So after several deep breaths and putting on my big girl writer panties, I set out on a mission to find an outline process that wouldn’t send me into an M&M’s overdose.
I like the flowchart idea and read several great articles on using it for your writing. BUT when I tried the software (a couple of different kinds – trial so no money spent) my stomach knotted and my left eye started to twitch. However like I said I did like the idea so I used my creative side and made adjustments.
On the giant sheets of paper I did the “what if’s” and it was great for brainstorming. If I decided an idea wouldn’t work I simply left it alone but if an idea did fit my vision of the story I made a note besides it like #SP1 (subplot 1) and then on a separate sheet I wrote out the details of that idea. Now I didn’t say what chapter each detail will happen… no sense getting too plotter. BUT now I have the main events listed with the cause and effects of each and all the subplots so I don’t have to worry about a ‘dangling’ string.
Once I’ve written each detail/event into the story I’ll make a note of it on my calendar (the chapter number on the day it happened) and mark it off my ‘flowchart.’
Another reason I like this versus the software – it’s portable. The pictures were taken on my porch which is where I did the plotting/planning. I wanted something I could move to where I wanted to write – my porch, my backyard, the family room while I watch Food Network J.
I’d have to download any software to my laptop and desktop. My laptop doesn’t have internet access so that was a barrier (I save everything to a flash drive from my laptop).
What are some of the ways you outline?