How I Outline

Standard

As I am finishing up my outline for the second draft, I thought I would do a follow up on my post about outlines (Discovery Writing v Outlines – Have an Ending in Mind) and talk about my own method.

Rough sketchings

Once I’ve got the initial idea for a story and explored it for some time, doing research and reading articles to prompt possible directions to take it, I then jot down some of the key points I think need to happen in the story.

I then space these events out and think about other scenes that could link them together and would fit with the pacing I want. I don’t mind if it is all very rough and fuzzy in terms of details, it’s just to put together enough scenes for a decent length book.

Refining

Now I have that rough linking of events and scenes, I then try to put a bit more flesh on those bare bones. Each scene I expand to about 4 or 5 bullet points of what should happen in them, and once I’ve done that for every scene I will then look at the order of them and remove/add more scenes until I’m happy with what I’ve got.

This is still not very refined, but serves as a nice blueprint to do the first draft from, though I do not worry if I deviate from it as I’m doing it.

Revised draft

When I’m writing my first draft I’ll make little notes about changes I think I may want to make for the next draft, or changes to themes or story arcs. Once I’ve finished it and taken a brief break from the story I’ll then go back to my first outline.

Again I do not go into huge amount of depth with each scene, this second pass is there to incorporate all I’ve learnt from the first draft and incorporating my notes to make sure story arcs flow correctly from scene to scene and the whole things is consistent.

With this revised outline done, this is then my template for the second draft. I will copy across text from the first draft as I go but with substantial changes, additions and removal of some of it.

Flexibility

The key point for me with this whole process is to be flexible, by not doing massively detailed outlines and keeping them sparse I’m giving myself the freedom create as I write, as well as being happy to add/remove scenes as I draft as well depending on how I think things are going.

More changes will still be required after the second draft, but I know I will have a more solid template to work from and which I can tweak and changes to make it even better as I go along.