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Thread: PrepTober - What is your outlining method?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Mary Love's Avatar
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    PrepTober - What is your outlining method?

    Panster or plotter, typer or quill and ink, I'm curious: how do you envision your story ahead of time and keep it all straight in your head?

    Lately I've been learning about the plot embryo and also really trying to tap into the emotional subtext of story (is that something you could ever hope to achieve in a nano 1st draft? I doubt it.)

    So what are your outline's looking like? 1 page? 10? 0? And what is your method this time around? Snowflake? Save the Cat? Rubber Duckie? Lucid dreaming? GIVE ME YOUR SECRETS!!!!!

  2. #2
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    I'm not doing NANO, but I'll tell ya what I do and what I'm changing wrt my current project: I'm a pantser who has no idea whatsoever what I'm about to write. I start with a character and "ask" them to tell me their story. I then put hands to keyboard and start typing (the story starts there). I read back what I've typed, fix, and keep going. Rinse. Repeat.

    This time around, I'll be creating beat sheets and a checklist la Save the Cat! once I complete my draft and will revise accordingly.


    ETA: I figure doing it that way will cut down on the number of revisions I need to do. I love revising and I become obsessed to the point of not knowing when to stop.
    Last edited by Ari Meermans; 10-19-2018 at 06:29 PM.
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  3. #3
    fighting evil by monitorlight lilyWhite's Avatar
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    I almost never outline for my own stories. Aside from thinking up things in my head, 90% of what I do is pantsing.

    But one of my NaNo WIPs this year is quite different: it's a serial fantasy-adventure story, formed of individual episodes along the way where not every adventure is connected to the main plot. It became a concern of mine that too much of the chapters were filler, things that didn't matter in the grand scheme of things.

    Therefore, I made a table that includes a summary of each chapter, as well as the important elements introduced or hinted at in each chapter. This gives me a good way to know if I'm taking too long between main-plotline chapters and assures me that even chapters about one-off subplots introduce hints or worldbuilding that becomes important later on. The table also includes the later acts of the story, where I've included potential ideas for chapters for each act, which helps me to know that I'm pacing out important chapters properly and how much room I have for less-relevant stories.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW Velvet27's Avatar
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    I'm a big outliner, I love them. I have a plotting/beatsheet combination of Save the Cat, Romancing the Beat (Gwen Hayes) and 22 Steps (John Truby) that I use (still in the trial phase with this, but all is going well so far). It's a pretty epic spreadsheet with info on characters, preplotting stuff on characters and story, a scene list, beats etc etc. I'm finding with this I'm getting to know my characters a lot better before I've even start writing, meaning I understand their motivation for doing things, their flaws and know how it's all headed towards the black moment. It helps me a lot :-)
    Rewrites rewrites rewrites.
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  5. #5
    Bananas are my favorite animal A S Abrams's Avatar
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    I like using a little bit of this and that. The latest method I learned was Lisa Cron's Story Genius, using the 'third rail' to get to the heart of the story. I also like John Truby's 22 Steps, which is the meat of my outlining process. Another structure I use is Story Grid, especially in using the value shifts to make sure there is meaningful change at each plot point.

    My process is a bit tedious since I end up outlining/summarizing the entire story about five to seven times until the story beats feel like they're falling into the right place. Then I do my scene list and timeline, at which point I'm...not ready at all. I don't know how this always happens--makes no sense.
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  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW Mary Love's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velvet27 View Post
    I'm a big outliner, I love them. I have a plotting/beatsheet combination of Save the Cat, Romancing the Beat (Gwen Hayes) and 22 Steps (John Truby) that I use (still in the trial phase with this, but all is going well so far). It's a pretty epic spreadsheet with info on characters, preplotting stuff on characters and story, a scene list, beats etc etc. I'm finding with this I'm getting to know my characters a lot better before I've even start writing, meaning I understand their motivation for doing things, their flaws and know how it's all headed towards the black moment. It helps me a lot :-)
    Wow, I want to see this epic spreadsheet! Sounds amazing (and slightly overwhelming?) but I love all the resources you've combined. Never do anything one way all the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by A S Abrams View Post
    I end up outlining/summarizing the entire story about five to seven times until the story beats feel like they're falling into the right place. Then I do my scene list and timeline, at which point I'm...not ready at all. I don't know how this always happens--makes no sense.
    Oh! I should do mine multiple times. I've made the mistake of trying to stick to the first one I got down and make the story stay to that... even when it didn't want too. But I have since noticed that every rewrite of the outline turns up new things so I should keep doing it until it's amazing instead of acceptable.

    Really enjoying hearing your processes. Please keep em coming!

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW Mary Love's Avatar
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    Six Ways To Structure (And Plot) Your Novel <<This article came up on my twitter. I recognize some of the methods, but for me most warrant looking into further.

  8. #8
    figuring it all out
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    Someone on this forum mentioned the "snowflake method of plot design" so I'll mention it again. I'm going to use it for my second draft.

    https://www.advancedfictionwriting.c...wflake-method/

    I think the main thing is to get to know your characters first. I'm on my first draft and I just got to the point where I got to know and like my protagonist, that's going to help a lot. Now I know if she'll do something or not or how she'll react to a tragedy, etc.

  9. #9
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fortz View Post
    <snip>
    I think the main thing is to get to know your characters first. I'm on my first draft and I just got to the point where I got to know and like my protagonist, that's going to help a lot. Now I know if she'll do something or not or how she'll react to a tragedy, etc.
    That's the only method that works for me: start with the character, put them in a situation, and throw rocks at them. It must be my personality, 'cause it just flows.
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  10. #10
    Not Ready to Put the Knife Away Kjbartolotta's Avatar
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    Spreadsheet. Monsterous, hideous spreadsheets, jamming all kinds of templates together into some kind of hell-gumbo. But I haven't made one in a while because I have years of them to work through.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW Mary Love's Avatar
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    Yesterday, I did Rachel Stephen's plot embryo and man, that was enlightening and fun. Here's pic proof. You should all check her out! She has a one week video series on how to plot on 1 page. So good!

  12. #12
    Benefactor Member WeaselFire's Avatar
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    I don't outline. Not formally at least. I have the entire novel written in my head before I sit down and write it, some parts stay the same, others change. I edit as I write so, when I'm done, I'm kind of on my third draft already. I've pretty much always written this way but I've never found anyone else that successfully works this way.

    Jeff

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