OK! We’re on O! Two posts today to catch up, but hopefully you all don’t mind too much. So, let’s get into Outlines. (OMG Outlines!) Outlines were a process that, early on in my writing efforts, gave me anxiety. All I could think about when outlines came up was Roman numerals and capital letters and lowercase letters and lowercase roman numerals and boredom and sadness. So productive, right? Totally not biased from years of school, right? Sure.
So, how did I end up deciding outlines are not the worst thing ever? Well, I looked at all of the stories that I was writing without an outline of any kind, and realized my stories had a lot of the same problems popping up. There were pacing and movement issues in terms of what scenes were included and what was happening in them. There were inconsistencies of character motivations. And there was a lack of complexity in terms of plot and subplots. Something had to change.
In the time since I decided I was going to start figuring out outlines, I’ve tried a few different ways of using them. I started out with simple outlines where I brainstormed and wrote down the barest elements that I needed to happen to at least move the main plot along. Then I read and looked at the huge variety of other outlining options that exist and started playing with more intensive outlining of my novels, characters and settings. And now I’ve started looking into how beatsheets work with regard to scene outlining.
This is a process I’m still learning, but my goal with all this outlining figuring out is to write faster, more efficiently, and cleaner first drafts. I am figuring out what parts of outlines work for me. There’s still lots of room for surprises and excitement in the discovery process as I write, but I at least have an idea of where I’m trying to go. In some ways it’s like having a map that points out all the awesome roadside attractions between my starting point and my ending point.
How do you feel about outlines? Have you tried them at all? If you’re not a writer, is there some particular process in your passion project that you are trying or feel strange about?