Outlining: Tips And Ideas

To outline or not to outline… that is the question.

Last week I wrote a post called, “Why Outline?” The title is pretty self-explanatory. Why should you outline your novel? I gave a list of a few (good) reasons, but ultimately the choice is yours whether you want to outline your novel or not. It’s no big deal if you decide not to.

However, if you do decide to outline your novel here are a few interesting ways to do so (if you don’t already have a particular way to outline).

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The Snowflake Method: Show of hands: who has heard of this before? I have, but have I ever used it? No. I had to do a bit of research for this one because I didn’t really know what it’s about. Basically, it’s a 10-step process on how to organize your writing. You start from a small summary of the novel and go from there. The last step is to begin your first draft.

Now I know it seems like a lot of steps just to go from idea to first draft, but the idea behind it is to start small and take baby steps in organizing your mind and thoughts.

This is to ensure you don’t miss anything while you write the story. All the scenes will be laid out for you, all the characters will be unique and have a certain purpose, and (hopefully) there will be no plot holes.

Does this mean you won’t have to do any editing when the first draft is done? Of course not.

That would be too easy.

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The Skeletal Outline: You know that pyramid thing you learn in elementary/middle school? Well, some people actually put that to good use when they write their novels.

They use this pyramid (plot diagram, according to the picture) to summarize each part. Each part being the exposition, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution. By summarizing, you write certain scenes you want, describe what the characters are going to do and what’s going to happen to them, etc.

Some people use bullet points to highlight key concepts in each part. Personally, I think the bullet points would be easier. Then again, it wouldn’t be as detailed… unless you use a lot of bullet points.

Like the Snowflake Method, I do not use this method. To be honest, I don’t even think of my novels in terms of exposition, rising/falling action, climax, resolution, what have you. I just kind of go with the flow and write the scenes in order as they would go.

However, if I had to choose between these two methods, I think I would go for the skeletal outline. I enjoy making lists and the pyramid seems to do just that. Then again, I’m sure you could modify each method to make a unique one that works specifically for you.

20150124_151016Chapter Summary: This is how I used to outline. Way back when I wrote fan fiction. 11 years ago. Wow.

Anyway, I have no idea if anyone has ever outlined like this before, but it worked for me way back when. I don’t use that way now, but I still think it’s a decent way to outline your novel.

All I did was summarize each chapter. It’s that simple. As you can see from the picture, it ultimately looks like a block of letters (especially with my handwriting). The highlighted parts show a new chapter. Everything written after each highlight is a summary of that chapter.

I explain what scenes are going to be in the chapter, sometimes I add in some dialogue I would like some characters to say… I even have notes that say things such as: “foreshadowing… yay!” You know, so I remember how to write my plot so readers can figure out the foreshadowing, symbolism, and all that fun stuff. I especially make those notes when I realize I foreshadowed without meaning to. It’s like your subconscious is smarter than you.

There you have it. Three different ways to outline your novel, plus more (if you click on the links below). Two I’ve never used and one I used to use all the time. Everyone works differently and at their own pace. So the outlines listed above may or may not work for you; especially if outlining isn’t even your thing. However, it never hurts to try.

As stated before (many times, actually) I use my own method I made up. Well, I thought I made it up, but I have seen it floating around on the Internet. It’d be pretty cool if I had my own method, though. It’s different, but similar to the chapter summary I used to do.

But more on that tomorrow.

Further Reading:

The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel
8 Ways to Outline a Novel
7 Steps to Creating a Flexible Outline for Any Story

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Hello 2015!

 

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2015 is officially here! It’s time to look ahead confidently and make this year really count.

Did I complete my resolutions for 2014?

Eh… yes and no. One resolution was to read more. I made a Goodreads challenge to read 20 books in 2014 and I read 24 books. I think I could have read more, but 24 was an overachievement.

Another resolution was to write more. I kept up pretty well with my Short Story Sundays on here (I think). I won two out of three NaNo challenged in 2014, and I also got pretty far in writing/editing my Detective Florence series.

What are my resolutions for 2015?

My resolutions are more or less the same as last year… I want to read more than last year. For the 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge, I’m going to pledge to read 52 books. That’s one book a week. We’ll see how well I can keep up with that.

For writing, I’m going to focus more on my Detective Florence series. By the end of 2015 I want to have the first novel ready for publication so I can start querying.

On a side note, I want to start eating healthier. I give myself until the end of the first week, but it’ll be good to try.

What’s up for the blog in 2015?

I’m going to start posting regularly. There will still be plenty of “personal” posts on here. However, I’m going to have a few posts already written to make sure I can keep up with the blog. Also, the topics will be more about reading and writing in general as well as my own writing.

–Sunday: Short Story Sunday will continue. Each Sunday I will post a short story or poem or some other type of my own writing.
–Wednesday: I will post advice and tips about writing. I will also links to outside articles and blog posts about the same subject.
–Friday: Something short and simple, I’ll post a writing quote or picture. I think it’ll be a great source of inspiration/motivation.
–Saturday: I’ll post what book I read that past week and let you all know what I think about it.
–Every “first” of the month: I’ll post either a character spotlight on the characters in my novels or a WIP summary of my current novel. I’m hoping that will be interesting for all.
–Every “sixth” of the month: I will post six six-word stories. This challenge is brought to you by Adam Ickes. I found his challenge a long time ago and decided it would be something to try for 2015.

Depending on what days the dates fall, some posts will be modified as such. For example, if the sixth falls on a Friday I’ll either post the six six-word stories or the quote or maybe both.

There you have it. My new and improved blog for a brand new year. I hope you all enjoy the ride.

I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2015!

Update This And Update That

I Have Important Things To Say….

 

I have no idea where to start! I have a lot to say and I don’t know if I’m going to remember it all. I had Starbucks today and I am extremely wired! Seriously, ask my sister…and my mother…I was bothering them both. Singing, dancing, making weird noises, walking funny, yelling, laughing, falling on the floor, being loud…true story.

ANYWAY, I have three things to talk about…at least that’s all I can remember that I had to talk about…

First, Spilled Ink is back up for business. About two years ago, my sister and I started a writing website. Life got in the way and we kind of let it die. However, we wanted to get back into it so we made a new website for it. We came up with some new ideas for it, kept some old ideas and scrapped the rest of the old ideas. We hope the website grows a lot and is very successful.

Let me tell you a little about it: There are prompts, tips, writing races, co-authoring, and a role-playing section. There’s a place where members can review and discuss books they have read. Also, each member has their own board where they can post their own stories and other people can review the stories. You know, give feedback and critique. The link is on the Come Find Me page of this blog, but here it is again: Spilled Ink. Please go check it out and if you like, go ahead and join. We’d love to have you. 🙂

Next, I was thinking of adding more to this blog. My sister gave me this idea a while ago and I have been thinking of doing it ever since. I just never got the chance to actually do it. I was thinking about it more today and I think I’m going to really do it. However, I want to get your opinions anyway. So, if you don’t mind, please comment on whether you would enjoy this and want me to do this: once a month, I was thinking of doing a volg (video blog, for those of you who don’t know). So, once a month instead of posting words, you’d get to hear it straight from my loud mouth. Wouldn’t that be awesome? I don’t know when I would actually start doing this, but I thought I would throw it out there and see if you guys would like that or not. Of course, if the majority of you say no I may do it anyway. 😀

Third, I guess I should update about my actual writing, huh? I have been writing bit by bit each day since my last post. Since my last post I have written 7,659 words on Take Over. I plan on writing a little more tonight, but I probably won’t get the chance to update this later tonight and tell you all how wonderful I have been doing with my writing! I’ve been a good girl lately. 😀

I guess I do have more to talk about…fourth, my sister and I went to Barnes and Noble today (hence the Starbucks). We were looking at writing books when we were supposed to be writing. I have been thinking a lot about my future lately and I decided that it’s time that I really start looking for publishers. I have two children’s books written and ready to leave the nest. So I found one of those books that lists publishing companies, agencies, magazines, etc. I wrote down a few publishing companies that represent picture books. So, while I finish Take Over, edit Hunter and Diary of a Lover, and write Saving Each Other for Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ll be sending my two picture books off to publishers.

Also, Writer’s Digest sent me a thing in the mail about their annual writing contest. I’ve done it before (and lost, obviously), but that was two or three years ago. I think I’m going to try to do it again this year. I think I’m going to send in a poem. I don’t write poems often, although I would like to. I wasn’t going to bother with the contest again this year, but the other day, in math class of all places, I thought of a poem idea. I think that was my inner muse saying, “Do the Writer’s Digest contest!” Because seriously, when do I come up with poem ideas?

Anyway, that’s that. Send my picture books to publishers, polish off my young adult novels, prepare for Camp NaNo, finish Take Over, do the contest…I have a lot on my plate right now. But I like it. I have wanted to be an author since I was ten and I finally want to get started on it. Meanwhile, I’m going to promote myself as much as possible. So follow me on here, on Twitter (the link is also on the Come Find Me page), and on my other Spilled Ink website. Then sit back and watch me succeed. Because I’m going to make it no matter what. 🙂

 

2013: 72,855/365,000 Words Written
2013: 1,749/18,250 Pages Read