Tips on Outlining

by , Tuesday October 22, 2013
Tips on Outlining

What Matters

I'm back with another set of blog posts for you!  Last month's blogs can be found at the bottom of the final post - A Motivational Push - which can be found here.
People do different amounts of outlining. Some people like to know exactly where they're going and how they're going to get there but other writers are not like this. Don't be put off if you're writing and you don't know where you're going, that's fine too. You can carry on writing and then change it at the end to make it all tie up and work out.
I tend to do little planning and work it out as I go, it's just a way I use to encourage myself. I always know what's going to happen a few chapters ahead of where I am so I don't get stuck. I do tend to write down every little thing that I know as I go as well, this is just so I can't forget anything at all.
Because every writer's different, I can't write a blog post on how to outline, it's just a matter of what works for you. All I can say is that however much or little is fine. It's nobody else's problem but yours.
What I can do is give suggestions as what you might want to outline before you begin.
  • A few general plot points - you can decide whether to use them later but it's comforting to know they're there in case of writer's block.
  • Information about your characters - I always do little profiles with impersonal facts about my characters such as their full name, nicknames, age, height, hair colour, eye colour, date of birth (if I think I might need/want to know it) - I can't believe how much I refer to this, it's stupid really. Like the list of plot points I always make and hardly ever use, it's nice to know they're there.
  • The conflict and why it arises, maybe with notes on an antagonist.
The only thing I think is essential before you begin is research. For example, every time my characters get injuries I've never had myself, I'm all over the internet finding out how long it takes to heal, what sort of medical attention it needs and if I can, what it feels like. This way my writing is always realistic. By doing this before you start writing you don't get stuck later on having to research when you're in the zone and don't want to stop. Somewhere on the internet there is a fantastic description of what it feels like to be shot for all of us lucky enough to never have experienced such a thing!
In short: Outline however you like, makes notes of what you think is important and research.
Are you a person who outlines until they're exhausted or do you just wing it for as long as you can? Does it always work? Have you ever tried the other method? I'd love to know!
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