Thursday, October 14, 2010

Outline complete!

So many apologies for the lack of blog posts lately. I have no excuse other than that I've just been doing other things.

So I finished my outline for NaNoWriMo. It's quite exciting because I had experienced some moments of doubt as I wasn't sure I was going to be able to figure out the novel. But I've got a plot, a sub-plot and I'm working on planning out some more fun, well-rounded characters. Since that's mostly what I've been working on, I thought I'd fill you in on the details of how I plan a novel.

1. It starts with an idea. One beautiful, shining nugget of an idea. It will pop into my head randomly and I will immediately get very excited and start running around like a chicken with it's head cut off.

2. As soon as I get the idea, more ideas start to come. I start to see some characters in my head that could work, and I begin to feel a tone for the book coming on. At this point I am euphoric and nothing could ever bring me down.

3. Now I decide to write. This could be the same day that I get the idea, or months or even years later. I'll begin by writing a short synopsis of the idea, sort of summing up the main points. Then I slowly begin to tease out the details.

4. I do a bullet list of an outline, listing points that I want to make, scenes that I want to include and characters that I want to introduce. Then I put the list more or less in chronological order. This is where the hard part comes in. Once I have part of my idea down, I begin to realize that there are huge holes or gaps in the story, where the characters jump from J to P without stopping at K, L, M, N or O first. This is frustrating because often I have no idea what these letters are going to be. But often I find that if I just let my brain work over these problems during my day to day activities, as long as I keep them in the back of my mind, the solutions usually slowly come to me, one day at a time.

5. This is also an exciting time because great, perfect ideas will come to and eventually the book really seems to be coming together. Now I take my rough bullet list and turn it into an actual, beautiful outline, with Roman numerals and everything. I fill the list in and put things where they go. It is usually at this point that I find my plot holes, and realize (in the case of this novel) that one character can not be hero, villain, and be killed, so I will need a few more characters.

6. Once the outline is done, I go back through all my notes and miscellaneous questions and comments to myself and make sure that I haven't forgotten anything that I wanted to include.

7. At this point I usually begin writing the book itself, but in the case of this particular novel, I still have over 17 days until NaNo starts so now I'll have to content myself with possibly picking up a few more subplots, and creating some more characters.

So it's quite a relief to have the outline done, because now I know that the book can be pulled off, it's like planning a trip for months and finally getting your vacation approved at work, making your hotel reservations and booking the flight. It's all coming together now and I think it's really doable. I have my road map and now I'm ready for the trip to begin!

Bring it on, November!
(Comic used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at

1 comment:

  1. That's a very thorough planning technique! I wish I was disciplined enough to plan like this, and be all prepared to start.