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Do you outline?

  1. Yes

    13 vote(s)
    72.2%
  2. No

    5 vote(s)
    27.8%
  1. TimeLadyLexiWrites
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    TimeLadyLexiWrites New Member

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    How I Outline My Novels

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TimeLadyLexiWrites, Apr 25, 2016.

    Hello my fellow Authors! I decided to share my outlining process because I can't be the only one that has trouble, right? Okay, so this is how I outline my novels! (Credits to Jenna Moreci, I can't be this creative.)
    1. First I cut up index cards into 1/8 pieces. (Yes it's possible)
    2. Use a different color for each character.
    3. Put major events in a different color.
    So yeah that's basically it, don't go into full detail, that's the full manuscript.
    So hope this helps, and have a nice evening:)
     
  2. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    So far, I've tried various software packages designed for outlining (none fit my way of thinking, unfortunately) so I've gone back to Excel for now.

    I make a spreadsheet with headings for Scene and Sequel, the requirements for each of those and fill them in making sure each scene leads to a sequel and each sequel leads to a scene. I don't know for sure that it'll work, but I have high hopes. :)
     
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  3. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    Whiteboard ideas, move them around and make them fit right, then add some details. Same way I design a large software project.
     
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  4. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    I have a large A3 artist pad, I draw a straight line to indicate time, and then draw events along that timeline in all sorts of directions, colours, thought bubbles etc. I keep re-visiting this as I write to ensure I am still on track, and I am not against amending this where necessary. I also take sections of time onto a separate page to expand this into more detail, but keep referring back to my main one to make sure it fits.

    My background is accounts, so I am very structured.

    Oh, and also, this big book will one day be worth a fortune... of course!
     
  5. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I write a small summary of each chapter, in chronological order, sometimes going back to rework something that doesn't fit or feel right, until I have the events from every chapter planned. I don't go into huge detail unless I'm worried I'll forget it. For conversations that need to happen, I just write, "they talk about the book." I work out the details once I'm writing.
     
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  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I used to be very organized. I would list happenings - what could happen on lined paper, cut them into strips, reorganize them and glue them to a piece of Bristol board. I did this back in the 90s.
    I even had a chalk board to organize things.
    Now I'm less organized. Sometimes I'll write out major plot points or I won't. I daydream a lot and unless something is a scene I won't flesh it out because if it matters I'll remember it, but if it's not worth remembering, I won't. Scenes however I write down immediately, no matter if they won't show up till later because scenes feel more spur of the moment. Inspired by a feeling or an event that might not reappear or be duplicated in the weeks to come.
    I've become more of a flexible pantser - I basically know where I'm going but nothing is set.
     
  7. KevinMcCormack
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    KevinMcCormack Member

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    I've had to change my outlining over time.

    I think in a previous thread that asked this question, I included my whiteboard wall as part of the strategy; unfortunately, now that I have overlapping projects, this has stopped being practical.

    For example, I was writing some short stories intended for an anthology when a contest was announced with an earlier deadline, and while I was working on that submission, my editor asked me for some revisions to my most recent novel manuscript. It makes no sense to have a wall with just one outline on it anymore.

    I need the outlines to be self-contained in online documents so I can switch from project to project. I use Scrivener almost exclusively now.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
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  8. ToDandy
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    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    What you do is a VERY common technique taught in film schools. It involves writing individual scenes in the story on different index cards. Movies (and books too) play a lot with time and there are a million different ways to organize a story either linearly or otherwise. It's a great technique, especially for films as they typically have more strict time limits than novels. However they also work great for writers who prefer to have everything planned out.
     
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  9. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is something Stephen King alluded to in On Writing, how he'd get an idea one day, but not write it down unless he remembered it the next. I've adopted that as a habit and it's served me well.
     
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  10. RodarioOfCourse
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    RodarioOfCourse New Member

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    My own personal style is very loose but basically I will write maybe five scenes at various points in the story. Somewhat like key events that need to happen to get from the beginning to the end. Once I have my key points I break down my work into sections that fall between my points and I write. Sometimes the points change in small ways or I will discover a new and interesting path that the story can go down and so I pause and rewrite the points. Although I never allow myself to rewrite the end (I don't want to lose sight of my story after all).
     
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  11. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure I could ever be brave enough to write out of order like that. I would fear endless rewrites... not that I'm not stuck in a rewrite loop as it is, but still...
     
  12. RodarioOfCourse
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    RodarioOfCourse New Member

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    I enjoy writing out of order because it forces me to keep the larger story at hand in mind. If I write chronologically I find myself running off the rails following a little element I didn't know was there till I wrote it. Or perhaps my characters misbehave and the story changes altogether. Having that moment in time that I am looking forward to helps to focus on building it up and increasing the suspense to the moment. Once I arrive at the scene I will make little changes to account for any flair and fluff that developed en route. Once the dust settles and the scenes are all there I do one solid rewrite to ensure continuity.

    I must admit though there are times when I rewrite a little too much but if I get tired of looking at a particular section of the story I will hop over to another piece of the story or take a step back completely and work on another project. This method is great if you are like me and you want to know your piece inside and out and don't mind taking your time to finish a project. I also wish to direct movies one day when I decide to get out of the Army and grow up so working out of order is a good skill to have.
     
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  13. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    I used to use a method I read about online called "The Snowflake Method" but I never finished anything using that method because it requires too much planning before you started writing. Right now I'm using a method I randomly invented. I came up with five different sections of my novel and wrote a sentence describing each section. (Each is separate by some major event in the novel.) Then under each section I wrote 5 scenes, a brief sentence/sentence fragment describing the scene. Every time I write a scene I cross it off the list. As I'm writing, I'll realize more scenes that I need to write and add them to my outline. For example, writing one scene I'll realize after a character does or says something, or the way the scene ended I'm going to need to follow that up with something else. This has been working well for me as I'm almost finished with part 1 of my novel. I knew it was time to move on to the next part when I ran out of ideas for new scenes for that section.

    That probably sounded really confusing but that's what I've been doing!
     
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  14. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not at all. I tip my hat to your inventiveness. When it comes right down to the crunch, we all have to invent our own methods to get through the process.

    Still, I borrow freely wherever and whenever I see something interesting... like with this method you described. ;)
     
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  15. David Biggs
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    David Biggs New Member

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    I am just starting out with serious writing. I did a lot of Google searches, taking into account the obvious infomercial type of products being pushed. Snowflake Pro seemed like a good idea to me at first... then I came back here and searched it. I am not bashing Snowflake at all, in fact, I was prepared to purchase it. However, based upon the discussions I am reading here I have decided to go with Scrivener instead.

    I love this community :)
     
  16. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    The guy who invented the Snowflake Method explains how to use it for free on his website. You definitely don't need to buy the software to use it. His method is good but only if you like doing all or almost all your planning first which I've realized I don't enjoy.
     
  17. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Scrivener gets a lot of good press, but I had the same problem with it that I have with any software I've ever tried for organizing my writing: I always feel like I'm staring through a magnifying glass at a small part of my story. No easy way to get an overview.

    Not that I'm trying to put you off Scrivener; it's got some good features. But I've owned it for a couple of years now and I stopped using it because trying to find the features I wanted to use took up way too much time. The tutorial videos are all for the Mac version and when it comes to the finer details, the Windows version is quite different. Unlike a lot of software, they've made versions that match what users of each platform expect rather than unifying the interface across the board. Being totally unfamiliar with the Mac, I don't know how to translate from Mac-ese to Window-washer... or whatever it's called.

    There's nothing worse (IMHO) than being yanked into computer techno-land while trying to do something creative. At this point, I'm contemplating going back to sticky notes on the wall behind my desk. At least I know how those work.

    But as I said, please don't let me put you off trying Scrivener. Perhaps you'll have better luck than I did... or maybe you own a Mac! :)
     

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