Thursday, July 5, 2018

A Matter of Pantsing -- How Do You Outline?


What kind of outlining technique (for those of you who are plotters) do you use to plan out your novel? Note cards? Old-fashioned number and letter outline?

Rory Hayfield-Husbands: Coming up with ideas for each scenario and then discussing it with like minded people.

Anna Grace Carpenter: When I outline (which is not all the time) I use the index card method. Those are then transferred/typed into a doc that serves as my first draft. As I write the chapters that cover each scene I delete the plot points out of the outline until there are none left - just the manuscript. (But, I also use outlines more for sequels or revisions now than the initial first drafts of first books.)

Jonah Mason: The best method I know is to outline the story in a couple of paragraphs, hitting the high spots in a prose way. It's not technically an outline, more of a "treatment," like you might do for a script.

Jeremy Hicks: A mix of methods. I was using a legal pad and note cards today, actually.

Pamela Turner: I use Scrivener's index cards to outline. I use regular index cards, too, but at least with Scrivener, I can read my notes. :-)

Gordon Dymowski: I just use paper (a notebook or legal pad) and pencil - my outlines are usually in bullet point form. (I'm not too pedantic about format - the outline is there for me to organize ideas)

Brian K. Morris: I start out with an elevator pitch for the basic story, add an ending (that I will likely change at least once as I write), then flesh out the story using the Lester Dent Master Plot as my guide before working on the first draft.

Percival Constantine: I don’t have a consistent method. Sometimes I’ll use a mindmapping program to focus, other times I’ll scribble in a notebook, but it usually ends with scene descriptions in Scrivener’s notecards.

James Palmer: I just write them out in Scrivener. I figure out my plot points, then do a scene outline, one chapter per scene.

Janice Elliott: Howard I use a mind map software. It is called Free Mind and it can be found online for free. Because the human brain is not designed to organize our thoughts in a linear fashion as we are taught throughout our schooling, this method improves recall and next steps easier. I can honestly map out an entire book using it.

Bill Craig: I don't normally outline unless it is going to be a lengthy project, and then I used the number and letter method that I learned in school.

Mike Baron: Detailed outline.

Sarah Lucy Beach: Writers Blocks computer program. It allows me to shuffle elements around if necessary.

Alison Marceau: Depends on if I have the story completely mapped out, I've used notebooks to just summarize, maybe write a snippet or dialogue so I don't forget it or that will remind me. Key words and the like.

I'll also do separate notes for research and character details.

GoogleDocs is awesome for all of it.

There are also "writer's guide" apps, too, that help you keep track of the details and outlines and settings. I have them downloaded but haven't used them yet, though.

Neen Edwards: Note 8... I have a lot of saved sticky notes.

Matt Hiebert: Outlines of each chapter.

Ian Totten: First I do a quick outline to get an order for all the important things, then I do a detailed chapter by chapter outline that runs 30-40 pages.

Duane Spurlock: I do about ten bullet points and typically start ignoring them by the time I hit the third or fourth.

The bullet points make a perfectly good plot. It just seems, as I get a little ways into the story, I want to be entertained and surprised by it, just as if I'm reading it, not writing it. I think that helps the spontaneity that we want to come across to the readers as they experience the story.

Derrick Ferguson: I admire writers who have every detail, every twist and turn of the plot/story figured out before they type Word One, but that doesn't work for me. If I know everything about the story then what's the point of me writing it?

I like to leave plenty of wiggle room to surprise myself with the direction that the story and the characters take because I figure that if it surprises me and I'm writing the damn thing then it sure as shootin' will surprise whoever ends up reading it.


Jason Waltman: Note cards are you friends

Mark Bousquet: I've got a journal where I jot down whatever thoughts come to mind about the stories and characters and events. Sometimes I'll write dialogue exchanges. Scenes. Notes to myself about where to keep my focus. I'll create pressure diagrams. Usually I'll end up rewriting and reworking and refining the main story as I work through this, then get to a narrative outline, often broken down into acts or movements.

Josh Duke: Ive found that if I write out an outline I lose the drive to flesh it out.
I take notes, i jot down key dialogue to remind me of a direction or scene- but I just let it grow as it will. Ive found if I do that, I inadvertently end up creating complex connections and story threads I didnt expect to.

Danielle Procter Piper: I know where it begins, I know where it ends, but the journey to the last part often surprises me.