Friday, November 25, 2011

Okay, okay. You want to outline. Let me show you what other writers do.

As I've said before, I don't outline.

Depends on what you're definition of outlining is.  All writers do to a certain degree, even if it's all in a person's head.  I scribble a few notes on a  Post-It or in a notebook, but is that considered outlining?  To me, I envision outlining as writing down the most detailed events of your story, filling in the gaps here and there, before you ever start to write "Chapter One."  Not me.  Aside from those scribblings--and what's rolling around in my head--that's it.

Last year, when Ian Graham Leask was visiting our little library, he suggested outlining in this way: take a roll of butcher paper, spread it out across the table or the floor, and write out the various parts of your story.  Very clever.  I've even read about people taking a large piece of paper and free-writing the outline.  Thriller writer Jeffrey Deaver tells that he spends a lot of time, meticulously outlining his story, by writing down the various parts in an extremely organized fashion--reminds me of grade-school and we were asked to outline our essays with Roman numerals and such.

I recently listened to a podcast ( where Brandon Sanderson said he uses the document map feature for Microsoft Word.  To try this out for yourself, open your Word document and click on the "view" tab.  You'll actually have to write something but it categorizes it.  Let's say you have one heading for each character, and then various aspects of your worldbuilding, you can use the document map feature to jump down to that part of your outline.

I'm sure there are tons of other ways to outline that I haven't touched on.  Please share me your outlining methods, and if any of these above help, give it a try.  It's possible you're having problems starting your story and you need to outline a little to organize it.  Do it.

But most of all, write.  Write something.  Every single day.

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