Posted in Guest Posts, Writing

Outlining Effectively (Part Two)

Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be part of this, feel free to check out the Be A Guest Blogger page.

This week’s guest post is brought to you by Iridescence. Thanks, Iridescence!

You can read Part One of this post HERE.

In part one, I discussed about outlining tips for writers whose focus is their plot. In this post, I will be mentioning some outlining suggestions for writers who focus on their characters.

Tip 1

In the beginning, you might worry about starting with your characters and not your plot and how they will tie together seamlessly. Don’t think too much into your plot. You will figure it out as you go. Pick up your pen or your laptop and just begin.

But when you are outlining your characters, make sure to outline individual background stories as well. How two characters are related, how some characters will meet etc. Just those main scenes which you have in your mind. Note it down along with your character’s personality outline.

Tip 2

As I mentioned for the previous set of tips, I recommend outlining by hand more than in Word or software. Differentiating facts into sections will be a little time-consuming in Word and it wouldn’t offer much flexibility as well.

You might argue that it will be easier in a software such as Scrivener. When I used it for a trial period, I noticed that although it has several features to make outlining easier, it just isn’t the same as noting by hand on paper. It doesn’t offer that unlimited amount of flexibility. It also does not offer you a lot of information at one glance.

Also, in software, you will want to complete one section of traits before beginning any other. For example, you would want to get down all the physical traits before moving on to relationships or the past. You will not have that constriction in paper as you can just draw a line dividing the page and continue.

Tip 3

When writing/outlining a story and it’s characters, your mind will be cluttered and it will throw out ideas very fast. When outlining characters, you might think about his/her past and also a future scene at the same time.

DON’T write down one and plan to get the other down later, you might forget. Don’t be hesitant to cram notes in margins or divide sections of the paper without any planning. This is only the first attempt. Let it be messy, get it all down.

Tip 4

Use as many or as less sheets as you want. Don’t worry about it all being in only one page or being separate and orderly.Also when you want to scrap an idea, neatly strike it out once. The reason for this is the same as Tip 2 for plot-focused outliners above.

Tip 5

When you are done, don’t just accept it and leave it. Reread through the messiness and re-write everything you are going ahead with in a somewhat orderly fashion as final character spread. Also, save all your old sheets in case you want to refer back later.

Here is an example of a final character outline page (of just the basics):

Example

Do you focus on your plot or your characters? What do you think of these tips and can you think of some more?

About Iridescence:

Iridescence is an 18-year-old Indian girl studying engineering and dreaming stories. Other than reading, she loves to colour code, make notes and plan everything, Snapchat a lot and is a proud INFJ.

Connect with Iridescence:

Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Snapchat – iridescencey

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Author:

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. She enjoys writing young adult novels, middle-grade, and children’s picture books. She is currently working on her first novel.

8 thoughts on “Outlining Effectively (Part Two)

  1. Most of my writing starts in Scrivener, but I totally agree about using it for character outlining. Pen and paper is a much better option. I like to mind map when creating characters, and I use an app called MindNode that works great. I have it on both my Mac and iPhone. Its nice to be able to open up a mind map when I have a few minutes and work on it regardless of where I’m at.

    Great guest post.

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