Outlining is probably one if the biggest things a writer can do. Whether thats a full blown outline with every step covered or a simple bullet point system which tells you roughly where to go, every writer has an outline. Unless you write by the seat of your pants but then I did that with A Pirate Adventure and ended up needed a few bullet point lists to keep me going. Its a topic that sparks conversations and discussions all over the world with writers and there are so many different methods now that I wanted to share with you some of my favourites.
This is great for me up to a certain point. If you go to www.advancedfictionwriting.com Randy says this about it - "you start small, then build stuff up until it looks like a story. Part of this is creative work, and I can’t teach you how to do that. Not here, anyway. But part of the work is just managing your creativity — getting it organised into a well-structured novel."
I love the beginning stages of this method, writing down your idea into a sentence, and then expanding it into a paragraph. Sometimes I use the character step as well but mostly I just use them.
Some writers use index cards to write down all of their scenes and then laying them all out into a format that creates a story. I've tried this method and it doesn't work for me at the moment, but I am going to try and get into this as with the randomness of scenes that appear in my head I feel this might be useful one day. Do you use this method? Let me know.
So what you do is grab a stack of index cards and write down everything on separate ones. For example you can write down opening sentences, or settings and place names, actions that people do and then lay them out so that they become a story unfolding in your mind.
I feel this method is better used for non-fiction books. Am I wrong?
Plot Point List:
Or more commonly known as the five major milestones. This way of plotting I imagine can be good for pantsers as it's so flexible. It allows you to create 5 pillars of things that MUST happen and anything else around that is simple fun to play around with.
So you're wondering what these plot points, milestones or pillars are? Let me tell you.
We have The Hook, First Plot Point, The Midpoint, The Third Plot Point, and The Climax.
Now I know those can be pretty scary but if you head on over to Writerology, Faye has used the definitions from K.M Weiland's book, Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story. So head on over there or keep reading for my summarized version.
The Hook; The opening scene that really makes your readers want to stay.
First Plot Point; Happens roughly 25% in and changes everything in the story.
The Midpoint; Is usually the pivotal moment of the story, got a plot twist? This is perfect for that.
Third Plot Point; Happens roughly 75% in and is the moment that sets your protagonist onto the ending.
The Climax; Happens about 90% of the way in and is the moment the readers have all be waiting for.
If you're not into plotting or outlining at all and just want to sit and write a story, that's calling writing by the seat of our pants, or pantsing for short. You have a rough plan and you just go for it.
So do you need an outline yes or no?
I think the answer is yes and no. Yes if it makes your writing process easier. If having an outline gives you direction, however flexible that is, then yes you should outline. If you find outlines too restricting and prefer to just sit and write then you don't need an outline at all.
Now tell me; How do you write your stories?