Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Weekly Progress Report - 10.25.11 - Outlining


Since I'm now posting on Tuesdays only, I plan to use my weekly post to give my progress report and talk about the various stages of writing a new book as I go through them. As I said last week, I've finished the outline of my new wip and have moved on to writing the rough draft, which I am very, very happy about! But this week I'm going to take a step back and talk about outlining.

I start an outline by figuring out my main storyline, as well as all my subplots and layers. I figure out the plot structure for each of these storylines and then write a step-by-step progression for each of them. Then comes merging it all together so it makes some sort of sense. The way I do that is by getting as many different colors of markers as I can find and a ginormous piece of paper and writing it all down. Above is a picture of my outline for my new wip. Yes, it's a mess, but the color coding helps me see each storyline at a glance and also the story as a whole.

If you're an outliner, how do you outline? Do you use a chart like mine? Any tips to share?

If you're not an outliner, do you have some method of keeping track of the storylines as you go through your rough draft? Or do you make an outline after the rough draft is complete to use for future drafts?


Check out some more great progress this week by other Writer Support 4U members:
http://www.writersally.blogspot.com/
http://jc-martin.com/fighterwriter/
http://waibelworld.blogspot.com/
http://nicolezoltack.blogspot.com/
http://susanfieldswriter.blogspot.com/
http://skmayhew.blogspot.com/p/tuesday-wip-status.html
http://margoberendsen.blogspot.com/
http://www.sherryauger.blogspot.com/
http://www.susanoloier.blogspot.com--in/
http://carrieannebrownian.wordpress.com/
http://lynneawest.blogspot.com/

38 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

Wow, that's fantastic. I sort of outline in my pants. I only write down the major plot points in the story though. I don't bother with subplots. And I don't use colored pens, but I probably should. That looks so cool.

Vicki Rocho said...

I thought the picture was a T-Shirt and I kept thinking "Wow, she's gonna have people squinting at her chest all day."

Great job! My notes half-hearted outlining doesn't look nearly as pretty and organized.

Amy said...

Great outlining progress! Using the different colors like that is a nice tip, I just might have to try that out. Thanks for sharing and Happy writing! :)

salarsenッ said...

Firstly, thanks for the linky!! Love to see people promoting our group!

I love your outline. I want to thank you. I've been dragging my feet for about 6 weeks, scared to outline my story. I will do it by the end of this week!! Question: how long did it take you to ponder your outline?

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wow! That is awesome! Your hard work shows in your writing...(says cp)

Old Kitty said...

Susan Fields!! I am beyond impressed!! I am so not worthy! I love that you write in pink too! Yay!! GOOD LUCK with your outlining - you look like you've cracked it!!!! Take care
x

miss mooty said...

Thank you for sharing! I agree with Old Kitty's comments that I feel so not worthy! Actually reading how other writers manage their time and work is most helpful and inspirational!

Bish Denham said...

Colorful! I write a few sentences for each chapter and do character sketches of my main characters, but other than that I don't outline. And I could never do it in colored pen...I make to many mistakes, change my mind too often. Everything I work up is done in pencil.

Joanne said...

I like that color coding idea, to find the threads you need at a glance. I start out each project with its own journal filled with notes organizing my thoughts, then move to a more formal outline from there.

DEZMOND said...

the pic alone gives me headaches, Suzie :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wow, that looks way too organized for me. I'm more of a pantser--okay, A LOT more. :-)

Brian said...

I'm quite impressed too, that really is organized!!!

Southpaw said...

I'm not that organized at least when it comes to writing. I have a bare bones outline when I start to write, then I keep notes on the side when something pops into my head.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Holy smokes is that an outline!! Impressive.
My "outline" is usally three sheets of paper with a few sentences for each chapter. Kind of lame when compared to what you have!!!

Margo Berendsen said...

Oh that color-coded outline is AMAZING!!! I start with a one page beat sheet, expand it to a 2 page outline, and... if I get that far, expand that into a scene-by-scene outline, but I've never given thought to subplots - they seem to reproduce like bunnies on their own without me helping them at all. Which is why I probably should pay attention to them ahead of time!

The Golden Eagle said...

That's awesome!

I usually type out an outline in OneNote or Word, using headings and bullets for subplots and details I don't want to forget to add.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I outline, but I just write down the story in short paragraphs, describing key scenes. I rewrite it a dozen times, adding new subplots and stuff. Never done a graph!

Lynda R Young said...

I'm impressed by your detailed outline. I use a whiteboard and colour-coded post-it notes along with different coloured markers.

Lola Sharp said...

WHOA. Like...whoa. I am...speechless. Wow, that's impressive. Girl, you are organized!
I'm a complete pantser (though I do try and work up a beat sheet type thing after my first draft and before revisions, to fix my unstructured mess of a first draft.). But, mans oh mans, do I wish I could pre-plan like this. The thing for me is, my first draft is sort of me finding the story, learning my characters. I start with the germ of an idea and a main character, then I kind of talk to the MC in my head, trying to figure out what s/he wants and what's stopping them from getting it...once I think I know what that is, i commence writing and see where it takes me.
And, yes, that is precisely why my revisions are so hellish and lengthy.
All the subplots start running away with me in that first draft, getting all tangled up. Revisions finds me untangling plot lines forEVER.

Is your chart above a day by day chart? (is that what I see at the top? Days of the week?) Is that the ay you generally organize it?
I am about to start nano, and my SNI is just floating around in my pea brain...maybe I could *try* to do something like this, but I don't know where to even start. *sobs* *begs for help*

Organizing is not my strong skill. *hangs head in shame*

When will you start writing this story? Are you doing Nano?

Huggles,
Lola

Medeia Sharif said...

I use a spreadsheet, with each cell being a chapter. I can use your outline as an example, because right now I'm not highlighting or using different colors as I outline.

Barbara Kloss said...

oh my WORD that is awesome. wow. yeah, I outline, but mine isn't nearly as bright and colorful AND ORGANIZED as yours! I have notebooks where I write all my ideas out and it usually takes writing a draft before I REALLY flesh out the story.

okay, so i'm off to buy colored pens now...

Al said...

I use ywriter software mostly.
And sometimes an excell spredsheet. I hate writing on paper, my writing sucks and I hate crossing things out. I end up with an illegible mess

DL Hammons said...

OMG!! Thats a work of art!

When I outline I just use a notebook. I list out all of the chapters I think I'll need, then fill in the plot elements and character developments for each. Then I'll layer on time/weather/setting etc etc. Its a mess...but it works for me.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

This color coding makes so much sense to me. And thanks for the photo that shows how it all turns out. Most impressive. I recently read about creating a board with index cards and colored pens that essentially outlines as you do. I am going to try this for my next novel.

Anonymous said...

That outline is inspiring! Good luck - it looks like you have a good framework already :)
Kim Karras

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Wow, you are amazing! That is the coolest piece of paper I have ever seen.

As you know, I'm not an outliner, and I think I plot by feel, too, which drives me crazy when I have to edit (and probably drives a lot of other people crazy, too). I can definitely see how your kind of novel planning would save a lot of headaches!

Amy

Talli Roland said...

Wow! I'm impressed! I'm kind of a lazy outliner. I do a brief outline, write a synopsis, and go from there!

Marcia said...

That is NOT messy! I "outline" by jotting notes about what comes next as I write the draft, and then I try the 9-box grid. I don't like too much planning beforehand. It saps my "need" to write the book.

Julie Dao said...

I'm so impressed! I thought I was a super duper outliner but you've got me beat! I like making lists and drawing pictures when I plan out stories. I love having a road map and knowing where to go in terms of writing :)

Julie Musil said...

I love the big colorful chart! I change my mind too much to set something in ink. I write in pencil on index cards, then I can shuffle them around. Good luck with your first draft!

Nisa said...

Nice outline! I actually outline, but only a few chapters at a time. This gives me the flexibility to change things when new ideas or twists come. Then I outline a few more chapters and write them. Set to repeat and you've got me figured out. :)

cleemckenzie said...

I can outline an essay in no time, but no matter what I try as an outline technique for my stories I fail every time. It has to be something that's cross-wired in my brain.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm not an outliner. Before, I probably made mistakes that I had to fix in edits. But now I write slower and I have a lot of time to think in between chapters. I think it helps me keep track.

Lynn said...

I like your colour-coding! I may have to adopt that method. My outline is a couple of lines for each scene. I started without an outline and may end up expanding on the current one. I'm not sure what process for outlining works best for me yet. I'm still in the trial and error stage!

Madeleine said...

This all looks very impressive. I'm trying to improve my outlining, plotting, dialogue and researching skills at the moment...

Kelly Polark said...

I have a word document for my outline, but I like your colorful one! (Actually mine is in three colors for Act 1-3.)
Yours looks very thorough!

Nas Dean said...

Wow! Great tips and advice. I make a chart and use post its for each scene, not that I follow it!

Riya said...

It's impressive with all the organization writers do!