Are you excited to get to the meat of the factor? We covered a little about outlining in our Research chapter, so now let us segway into a basic outline. I really do not care how you see fit to outline, you could write all your notes on scraps of paper and throw them into a hat for storage. If that is what works for you, who am I to judge? But why not lay down some basic principles and what outlining really looks like.
Guides and/or guardians
Roads and rivers
General build up
We are going to assume you have a preset genre in your mind–whether it be scifi, fantasy, horror, or nonfiction. There is a fundamental asset to outlining which will help to ensure your cows do not turn out pink when they are clearly as green as grass on Pluto. Let inspiration drive your story forth, but allow outlining to be the guiding hand. As before mentioned, it does not have to be steps one, two, and three all in numerical order, and you do not have to have every detail planned down to the last comma. You make it what you need to keep track of your thoughts, so do not feel the need to idle over minute details if that will not help you. Gloss over a little and let inspiration fill in the blank spaces.
With outlining, what you are working on is building the basic concept of your story. You know Jane must meet John so that John discovers her family secret and together they unravel a thousand year old curse. That is the bones of the story. But now you need to lay down how they meet, when John discovers afore mentioned secret, how she spills her secret, why he agrees to aid her, what else they learn about the curse, when they set off on their journey, and what awaits and then how they deal with obsticals. At this point, you do not necessarily know the hows of conquering the obsticals, and ultimately the curse, but you should have a rough idea.
Outlining versus “Pantsing”
Did you know “Pantsing” was a word developed by writers for writers? In the oh-so popular Urban dictionary, it states…
What many high school students will do to fellow classmates if they decide to wear sweatpants. It is far to easy to catch the wearer of the sweatpants off-guard and pull their sweats down. Any other form of clothing on the bottom is not to be messed with…..only sweatpants.
…..Well. Yeah. Moving on.
Pantsing is for writers. We all know this.
I have done both in my time. Pantsing is raw inspiration. It is when you sit down to write and you simply cannot stop the flood of words off your fingertips. Everything is coming effortlessly and you feel on fire. You forget to eat and sleep, you somehow overcome your bladder in your single-minded, other-worldly focus. Well, guess what, inspiration drains out. Before you even realize it, the meter is tipping at empty and you are left with an empty belly, a full bladder, and sagging bags under your eyes. You couldn’t possibly convene to write a single word more. So get up, relieve yourself, and refuel, because you are about to get to work.
This is where outlining comes in.
Luckily, you don’t freak out or become woefully sorrowful at the burnout of your Muse–you have a backup. Dig out your outline and scroll through the plethora of scribbled notes and ideas. This will not make writing easier after the inspiration has left, but it will give you something to fall back on. You will have to grunge out a few paragraphs–maybe even pages–before catching your stride again, but those are paragraphs–and pages–worth editing. Now put to work determination, recommit to the cause. Everyone suffers exhaustion or momentary disinterest in their goals, but determination and perseverance will stay your butt to that seat. This is your dream, your goal, your brainchild. And the world needs your story.
Take some time to work on the outline of your story. Don’t be concerned with how clean, neat, and pretty it looks, and don’t worry if you’re missing details. We will be going through this together, and we’ll dive into deeper exploration of this basic outline. Post in the comments any questions or struggles you may be facing.