1. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    Outlining

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by booksandnoodles, Aug 2, 2016.

    When it comes to outlining your story, do you do a full detailed outline, or just a basic one? I've tried to do a full outline but I can't bring myself to do it! My outline consists of all the scenes and what happens in between them. The problem is I got so bored sometimes. Should I plan some scenes and write before I plan more so I won't get bored in between planning And writing? Or if you guys have another suggestion that'll be great!
     
  2. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Depends on what you mean by a full outline? I do two: one with the basic story beats for reference to make sure I don't get mixed up while writing (stuff like "X and Y talk about Z" or "A finds out B"), and one that's much more detailed to keep the actual details in order (for instance in that one I'd specify what X and Y's conversation covered, what exactly A finding out about B means).

    The first one is mostly for chronology, to make sure that everything makes sense in sequence. The second ends up being almost a very basic first draft; I might even jot down some lines that I intend to actually include in the story in it. If that's what your full outline is like, I'd suggest scaling back to something more like the other type. It's much simpler and easier less intense, and it might really be all you need! Not everyone works well with an outline, much less a very detailed one. If outlining bores you, focus on actually writing and rely on more editing/rewriting to work out any kinks that might arise.
     
  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, don't do any planning and/or outlining.

    I don't for the reasons you mention. Not only do I get bored like yourself, it also dilutes my enthusiasm for the characters and story.
     
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  4. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I think this will degenerate into the usual discussion 'planning versus pantsing' :)

    For me, outlining does not work, or I should say it works only within very tight limits. I only jot down notes on very basic happenings/theme of scenes, all over the place and out of order on little sticky notes as they occur to me. They eventually get arranged into the timeline and so detail the basic storyline which might be what would be included in a synopsis. All else I fill out as I write the scenes in between the notes.
     
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  5. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    Thanks for replying to this! I might just write, and switch back and forth maybe. By a full outline I mean I'll have each chapter as a header, and I would write the scenes within the chapter. I do edit a lot now that I think of it, but I'll see if I can incorporate pantsing and outlining!
     
  6. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    Exactly! Something about outlining get's me hyped, but I feel like I'm going nowhere as well :). Outlining is great for me, but I think I should do it every _ chapters and then write so I don't get bored. Or scrap the outline.
     
  7. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    This sounds less damaging to me, than trying to outline the whole novel. As soon as I get the kernel of an idea, I have to start working on it right away.
     
  8. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    bump~
     
  9. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    I'm going to try it out and see how it works! And I used to be the same. You seem to follow the Stephen King philosophy actually. Some of your points are exactly like the ones I've heard from him.
     
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  10. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just a friendly warning to say that - as in most forums - I think 'bumping' is discouraged here :)

    Although I could be wrong and speaking completely out of my arse.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @booksandnoodles: Bumping is definitely discouraged here. Please do not do it again.
     
  12. booksandnoodles
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    booksandnoodles Member

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    sorry about that!
     
  13. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    So I never intended to have an outline (i'm a pantser) but after writing my first draft and looking back think "what the fuck is this shit?" My first draft has become my outline for my second draft if that makes sense. I should really call it draft 1b and it's going in a completely different direction BUT it's the same story. I feel like I am not making any sense lol. Draft 1a is 63k words, thus an entire detailed story with but it was never intended to be an outline.
     
  14. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    I'm a pantser, and I pantsed my very first novel too. But going forward, I'm going to do a compass at least. It's a very rough outline that won't be more than one page.

    Basically, I'll have these four points of interests:

    - What If statement
    - Potential Inciting Incident
    - Main Character's Flaws/Weaknesses
    - Potential Endings/Climaxes

    That's it. And I think this will work well for pantsers like me or those who get bored or become stifled with making elaborate outlines.
     
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  15. KevinMcCormack
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    KevinMcCormack Member

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    My approach is iterative - I start with a genre and theme and think about how that turns into a plot, and what types of characters will propel it. This gives me a rough outline with a few key scenes that I write out, and that helps me find a voice for the characters before I start work the rest of the scenes.

    No outline has survived a first draft, and I find myself rewriting the plot as I flesh out scenes from the original or revised outline.

    I hate to say it, but writing can be boring at times, and I'm not sure if there's any remedy other than to strive to write more interesting stuff (?).
     
  16. MichaelP
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    MichaelP Active Member

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    I outline everything. It's like telling the story without worrying about the writing part. The first draft then becomes a dramatization of the story.

    This may seem like a cute psychological trick, but I don't see it that way because it's how I've always written. Writing without an outline seems like a great way to waste time.
     
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  17. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    As detailed as I can get it. But it changes along the way.
     
  18. sahlmi
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    sahlmi Active Member

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    Basic here, to use as a guide. For me, too much detail spoils the fun, and too much will change anyway.
     
  19. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    I generally outline only in my head (I am blessed/cursed with a damn near perfect memory , that is I can remember virtually everything i've ever read or every plot iIve laid out in my head, but I can't guarantee to remember my wife's birthday). Having outlined in my head I then find that i can't outline on paper or in scriv without killing it , so I then pantz and pretty often find that draft one only bears a nodding resemblance to the mental outline
     
  20. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    It was the same for me, except it happened between the 7th and 8th drafts.

    But I used the 7th only as something from which to rob scenes. I went back to basic plot points รก la Blake Snyder, reexamined events and redistributed them as I rebuilt the entire structure from scratch. I did this using index cards with multiple plot threads (each row = a thread) and then wrote it up as a synopsis.
     
  21. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you get bored outlining - you can try various levels of "Discovery Writing" or "Pantsing" - which is the method of writing first and then going back and massaging structure on revision. Different people work different ways on different projects.

    As a semi-pantser myself, I think that method definitely has its advantages for some people - but if you try that I'd start by looking at material on how to Discovery Write purposefully rather than just sitting down and saying "I can write whatever I want and not think about it." There is a lot of method to it, and you still have to practice and learn skills, it's just not the same method employed in the outlining process. Actually it's the outlining process backwards - write first, then reverse engineer an outline when you finish and edit the free form story so that it looks neater and has more structure. George R.R. Martin calls this "gardening" rather than "pantsing" because it doesn't mean there's no skill or no structure, but rather you have to add the structure AFTER something has already grown (he calls outliners "architects" because they plan structure then build, while gardeners build then plan structure - but the key is that both still have to know structure at some point).

    Here's a Writing Excuses episode on the subject: http://www.writingexcuses.com/2012/09/09/writing-excuses-7-37-pantsing/
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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  22. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    When I was planning Rosa's Secret, I needed to outline the historical timeframes within which I was writing, and I needed to chart the timelines of my characters, since my title character's family tree spanned five centuries. But an awful lot of the fiction that I planned was either radically changed in the actual writing or eliminated in editing, as I found that trying to shoehorn everything into the historical events put tremendous strain on the writing. It led me to my Picnic Table theory - that whatever planning you do, either for the story lines or for the characters, you need to leave all the bolts loose, as with constructing a picnic table, until everything is tightened in the final stage. This is because as the story unfolds, your characters change in ways you didn't anticipate, and as your characters evolve, they impact the story in ways you didn't anticipate.

    I recently met Steven James (Story Trumps Structure) at a writer's conference, as he expounded on his theory of organic writing. This isn't just "pantsing" (a term he hates even more than I do), it's approaching the development of a story in a detailed and organized way, asking logical questions from the reader's perspective. His book is both entertaining and instructive, and it goes well beyond my Picnic Table analogy.
     
  23. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is a fantastic way of putting it :) And it works just as well for everybody: Pantsers need to be able to accept changes between their first draft and their second, Planners need to be able to accept changes between their outline and their drafts, sounds perfect.
     
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  24. karldots92
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    karldots92 Active Member

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    I'm definitely more of a "pantser". There are certain things I know have to happen like my chatacters meeting but that's pretty much as far as my planning goes.
     
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