Archive | 10:20 AM

Writers’ Group: Writing Outlines

29 Oct

Writers’ group was interesting last week. I was one of two people who showed up! Thankfully, I had something prepared for once. I was looking into standard outlines in preparation for NaNoWriMo and I had some good notes to share. I’d like to think that the notes I shared were perfect for the one person who showed up but I think I’m a bit optimistic in that.

The purpose of an outline is to help writers write better first drafts. Some people won’t write outlines and will instead use there ‘zero draft’ as an outline to write a better second draft. I feel like NaNo ‘pantsers’ are putting this together. There are four major types of outlines. Synopsis Outlines are the type I prefer. You outline the whole book in a paragraph or series of bullets and know the steps the book will take from beginning to end. I like this roadmap as a way to guide myself through the book. An In-Depth Outline is usually much longer, up to 10,000 words. This gives the writer a lot of detail about where the book will go and provides a lot of direction for the writer to follow. The third method is the Snowflake method, which I won’t go through here because I’ve talked about it before and there’s a lot written about it elsewhere. The final outline method is the Bookend method where the writer has an idea of where the book will start and where it will end but doesn’t give any details about the middle. That allows them a lot of freedom while writing but gives them something to aim for in the end.

There are some tips for helping with an outline no matter the type the writer chooses. The first is to develop the premise, a one-sentence summary of the book, and keeping that in mind. I think this is helpful when writing the outline and also for a Bookend outliner. The second would be to pick your framework. This could be a flashback, multiple points of view, or present tense. There are a lot of different stylistic choices to make before the first sentence is formed. The final would be to define the characters. What motivates them, what makes them tick, and how their relationships are formed with other characters.

Well, that’s my contribution to writers’ group for the month. Next month is NaNo so there won’t be much to share. Maybe I’ve helped someone else.

Until next time, write on.

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