A Writer's Journey

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Maya Angelou

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.

Victor Hugo

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Writing Wednesday: More on Dreaded Outlining

Today's Writing Wednesday post is brought to you by my outlining block. *laughs* I've only just recently started outlining my writing projects because 1) it gives me a clearer picture of the whole thing rather than just going blindly into each chapter with nothing to hold on to, and 2) because I'm a little scared to death, albeit excited, about beginning my new project.

I'm not a natural outliner. In truth, I'm actually entirely the opposite. *twitches a little at all the -ly's* So how does someone like me, who doesn't usually outline *and also hates it like I hate broccoli*, start an outline in the first place?

There's no concrete guideline, though some writing self help books would tell you otherwise, because all writers are different and they ultimately have to find what works best for them.

I usually start with breaking out a subheading for each chapter. After deciding how many chapters I have (generally twenty to start because it's a nice do-able, even number), I break out the documents into acts and determine how many chapters would need to go into those acts to fulfill the information needed to get through to the audience. If you really want to go basic, a three-act breakout would suffice (introduction, climax, resolution). I like to put in four acts just because the pacing changes slightly in each act (or at least that's the initial plan *laughs*). So...

Act One - Introduces the characters, the world (if world building is a high point), and the central conflict.

Act Two - This would be what I like to call the buildup. This is where the main events happen that would eventually lead to Act Three, the climax. A good chunk of my chapters will be lumped into Act Two because they are the events that propel the story forward to its pinnacle point.

Act Three - This is where the events from Act Two will hit their breaking point. The characters need to make a decision regarding the central conflict. The make or break moment, if you will.

Act Four - Now, if Acts One-Three were the appetizer, soup/salad, and main courses, this would be the dessert. The resolution. This is where all of the questions should be answered (unless it's a series) and where everything should tie out. The result should be satisfying and adds that little something that puts the reader at ease.

This post not only serves as a writers' tip thing of sorts, but also to help me get the writer gears in motion. Mid-post, my new characters had invaded my head space and started conversations of their own. *laughs*

If you think my methods are still a little too jumbled and full of malarky, you can check out these other links for great outlining tips:

Lori's blog
Corinne's blog
Jeigh's blog
Chris' blog here and here
Advanced Fiction Writing

And now for our regularly-scheduled pretty...

**image from darkgreencabochon


  1. Thanks for the post, I start outlining for my next WIP next week!

  2. Nicely done - this got me excited for NaNoWriMo :)

  3. Good post and useful to me too as I am also a non-outliner! Good luck!

    Also, here's an exchange of pretty for you: http://alicedaydreams.tumblr.com/post/11015018023/cfnchng-this-one-is-my-favorite

  4. I'm actually planning on posting about my outlining process today, too. I have to say that our processes are very very similar! Outlining can be a real headache - kudos on getting through it!

  5. Great post on outlining. And beautiful picture of Mr. Leto. :)

    I have a blog award for you!

  6. @Bonnie That's SO exciting! I just started and I'm getting the giddy thing going on when the new characters start making themselves at home in my head. LOL

    @Sophia YAY! I'm excited for NaNo too, although I'm not sure if I'm more anxious. >_>

    @Krispy *fist pumps* Non-outliners unite! Well, except...you know, I'm outlining now. <_< LOL

    @Annalise Thanks! It's been kind of a headache so far, but that's just because I can't decide where I want to put what. LOL

    @Alexis I SAW AND THANK YOU!! <3 That may be my post for today. Realistically? Monday. *is a procrastinator* XD