Outlining Effectively (Part Two)

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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.

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Outlining Effectively (Part One)

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!

If you’re starting to write a story, no matter for a book or not, what do you think of first—the plot or the your characters? This two-part tips posts will be discussing for both the answers.

Points in this post are more relevant to those who focus more on their plot.

Note: These tips would work best for plotters.

Tip 1

Some people like plotting their story in ink and others prefer to type. Either way, I suggest plotting at least some of your story in paper. Have a pen and notebook with you always and jot down everything in bullet points. Bullet points make everything look neater, shorter, and more precise. Writing paragraphs would feel too tedious, especially when you are just outlining, and this is the reason most lean towards typing. Bullet points will also prove easier when you are referring back later as you won’t have to read the whole paragraph for one small fact. You can get it in one glance.

Also, don’t take too long writing down as it might interrupt your flow of the plot. The mind works too fast and writing in abbreviations and short forms can help get a lot down. Just make sure you can understand what you’ve written later.

Tip 2

When you want to change something, don’t scratch or scribble over it. Strike it out neatly and write down the new idea. One, this will make the page look cleaner and still appealing. Two, if later, while writing your story something doesn’t add up or match and you want to refer back to old ideas, you can clearly read what you’ve stricken out but it would be hard to make out what is under the scribble. Writing in hand saves your trashed ideas too which might actually be helpful later. In software, it would be lost.

Tip 3

You can work out jotting down points for future scenes or relevant info in 3 ways:

  1. Write down points elsewhere as you are plotting, even if it is in the middle of a paragraph.
  2. Outline one chapter and reread, writing down any new points and ideas only then and not letting it interrupt your flow in the middle.
  3. Only when you are done outlining for the day, take 10-15 minutes to reread and write down points and notes. Not caring whether you’ve written 2 pages or 2 chapters that day.

Tip 4

When you are done with some amount of plot outlining and are not in the mood for any more, never worry that you’re wasting time. Reread your outline and compare all of them together, figuring out the mismatches. Note down any changes and smooth out differences. This will help in solidifying your outline and also get your brain thinking again.

Do you focus on your plot first or your characters? What do you think of these tips and can you think of any others?