Transformation Step 2 – The Dreaded Outline

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.

My ‘flowchart’

An excuse to buy more colored pens – a passion of mine

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? 

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2 comments on “Transformation Step 2 – The Dreaded Outline

  1. I’m a pantser through and through… but when I’m really and truly stuck in my story and have no idea where it’s going, I’ll occasionally draw up a flowchart (though nowhere as detailed as yours!), but I may or may not end up sticking to it, haha.

    • Believe me this flowchart was a real struggle I kept thinking why am I going to write this story – I know everything that is going to happen BUT I do think it will help me increase my word count which is my goal :).

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