Author Blog Challenge # 7
Describe your outline process for your book. What do you do to stay organized?
Most of my stories, whether short or longer works, begin with a sentence that flies in and takes roost in my mind, where it wriggles and flutters and nudges and nurtures the unfolding of a story – then I sit down to write the bones of what I have. I rarely write an outline for a short story, as these are usually extensions of an original thought I have allowed to grow in my head until I am ready to write it down, writing the first draft in one sitting, even if this is a scribbling of ideas – which I suppose you could call an outline.
When writing a longer work, I open a new folder to keep track of all documents and files associated with this story, adding new files as I create them. The first document file I open becomes the first draft of the story and this is my working file. The next document becomes a time chart, a simple table with headings to suit the story. This will form the framework of the story setting, noting significant events and the emergence of characters and their relationship to each other. In another document, I create a comprehensive description for each character, giving all physical details, habits and idiosyncrasies. The last document I open will be the actual outline, writing down the page in dot point form from the first to last action. These one-liners may go on to become complete chapters, expanding like a vertical flow chart with more dot point outlines. While I may make changes to the initial outline, and frequently do, I have something to guide me or a point to return to if the story looks like getting out of hand. I find that by using an outline in this way, I have the basis of a synopsis and chapter outlines for when they are required.
While there are many different prescribed outlines, and all have merit, what worked best for me was developing my own. I found it is easier to work with a method of my own creation and it helps me to stay organised when my mind is darting in a hundred different directions.
~ Merlene Fawdry