Author Topic: Outlines... opinions, thoughts??  (Read 1460 times)

Offline michaelnue

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Outlines... opinions, thoughts??
« on: January 08, 2021, 12:00:41 PM »
A novice question, perhaps. But I'm trying to learn and grow as a writer.

The thoughts and ideas for my first two fledgling manuscripts began simply as jotted down notes and paragraphs in Word, before organizing them into a story. I have read a few things on outlines, but those are instructions on "how-to".  I would like to hear what actually works.  Thanks for your help!

Offline Tabris

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Re: Outlines... opinions, thoughts??
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2021, 06:33:25 PM »
There are so many ways to organize a novel, and it's really going to depend on you.

The two really detailed methods I've seen are Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method and the atom-by-atom breakdown in Amy Deardon's The Story Template.

Anne Lamott in "Bird By Bird" is a proponent of just writing whatever and seeing where it takes you.

I like the sixteen beats in Save the Cat because it's a nice structure but gives a lot of freedom. (I've also heard this referred to as tentpolling--I know what happens at certain points, and I just need to figure out how to get from point to point.)

But overall, you'll know your own style best and whether you work best with a lot of organization or by intuition/instinct.

Offline michaelnue

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Re: Outlines... opinions, thoughts??
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2021, 08:31:25 AM »
Thank you Tabris,  that does help.

I have seen Randy's snowflake method before. I need to re-visit it, and look into your other suggestions as well.

Again, you have been a great help. thank you!

Offline Viddiest

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Re: Outlines... opinions, thoughts??
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2021, 04:58:03 PM »
Using Scrivener has really helped for me - I don't work chronologically and don't do outlines, but that might suit my genre (Lit Fic) more than others.

Offline Odd John

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Re: Outlines... opinions, thoughts??
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2021, 02:56:38 AM »
jonny_555: That's always interesting, starting with an image. I've done that with poetry and short stories, but for whatever cause, reason or non-reason, not novel length MS. Somehow with those I always end up starting with a concept, although of course images will follow concepts.

TRANSIT OF VENUS, initially and maybe still a short story, started with the image of -- the transit of Venus. Popped in my head out of nowhere, apparently. Then: "So, what is this about?" Certainly not the "mere" astronomical phenomenon. Hmm... Could it be a love story also? (Didn't turn out this way... ) It morphed into a "cautionary tale" SciFi story. Which I'm still wrestling with...

At the same time, I'm working on two novels, one literary, the other a (murder) Mystery. Both were born of somewhat unusual concepts. Not very bright juggling all three at once I think. Gonna have to get more disciplined for the sake of focus and put at least one of the novels aside. Hate to do it, I'm enjoying them both...

Well, enough "wee hour" ruminating. Back to bed!
My inferiority complex masks my superiority complex. It's very convenient.

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Offline Odd John

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Re: Outlines... opinions, thoughts??
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2021, 03:15:53 AM »
Ha! Back to QT! Made the mistake of logging on here and now I'm keyed to write... whatever.

Outlines. Never worked from one. At least not a strictly formal one with nearly every plot point plotted out. For short stories I just pants it, don't need an outline. (Does anyone? "The short story is a spotlight, the novel is a searchlight.") But for a novel I need at least some preliminary organization. This takes the form of sketches only. Scene sketches and character sketches, including one for the setting-as-character.

Before typing my first word I always know the Working Title, the Main Scenes, the Main Characters, and many of the sub-settings. At least enough to sketch each. I know the likely sequencing of the scenes, though of course that I think is the most variable element. This may sound like plotting, but it's really not. At this point I only know what the scenes are generally about, not the actual action(s) or plot point happening. Each item fits on a 3X5 card, there are no pages & pages of outlining. I know the concept of the scene(s). Once I feel I have the "just so", right-sized deck of cards for a particular MS, likely 25 or less, only then do I put my itchy fingers to the keyboard.

This approach for me gives me just enough direction and just enough flexibility for a balanced writing process. I guess it's just midway between pantsing and plotting/outlining. Call it... getting dressed before you go to the party!
« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 03:31:18 AM by Odd John »
My inferiority complex masks my superiority complex. It's very convenient.

       - John