But now I have some new characters demanding my attention. I’m hoping to get their story really quickly and roughly written over the next few weeks, despite working overtime at “the real job.” It’s a book that I won’t even think of publishing until Anderson Stables is done, but I just need to get these characters out of my head now, before I go crazy.
So, since I’ve got a new duo to write about, I thought I’d show you guys my super sophisticated outlining process. I’ve tried using typed or handwritten outlines that follow a list design, and I’ve tried using software that makes timelines. I’ve even tried using real calendars or printed tables that look like calendars.
But the thing I have found that I always go back to is the method in the picture. I use graph paper to make a calendar of the duration of the plot. This keeps my plot confined to a few months instead of a few years (each book in a series gets its own outline). Then I use letters to place major scenes. Sometimes I use all 26 letters and add some lowercase ones, sometimes I don’t use all 26. These are just the major scenes, and I list them along the side (I took the picture before filling it in so no one can be curious about the highly undeveloped story yet). Seeing where those scenes are in the plot helps me formulate minor scenes that may or may not get letter placements. Letting the characters and plot move at their own pace and create scenes between the major ones is what keeps the process fun. There is always the “and what happens in the meantime” question that leads to more creativity.
I also feel like doing it by hand helps my brain stay in the creative mindset for some reason. Maybe because it’s almost like drawing and designing.
So now you know the secret to my outlining!