Outlines or Not – That is the Question

Day 15: #atozchallenge

I don’t know about you but I’ve read so many articles on outlining versus pansing, my head is spinning. For the most part, I am one of those who write by the seat of their pants. I let the muse and my characters take me where the story needs to go.

Since I’ve been working on my first novel (for a while now), I decided to look at outlining and novel mapping as a way to help me get the book finished and ensure I had all the necessary bits and pieces.

I use Scrivener and it has proven to be an invaluable tool in outlining what I’ve written to date. It is particularly helpful utilizing the custom meta data.

In additional, I started an Excel worksheet that maps out my novel. Columns include Character, scene number, timeline, setting, goal, conflict, action, reaction, stakes raised, and plot advancement. Each row is a scene. While Scrivener’s outline is similar, I like having something tangible to look at and make notes on while I’m writing.

Before you begin the outline, there are three things you need:

  1. The premise of your story – what is the basic idea?
  2. Your Characters – make a list of essential characters. Understand the events that have placed the character is this situation and what things influence his/her reactions.
  3. Establish settings.
  4. Sketch out scene ideas.

Complete your outline, scene by scene. You can elaborate or use a single sentence.

Outlines come in a number of formats: the linear, skeletal, summary, snowflake, contextual, visual map, or software. Choose the one you’re most comfortable with or none at all. Not every writer uses outlines and that is perfectly okay. After all, it’s your story, write it the way you want to.

Want to see examples, check out 8 Ways to Outline a Novel by Robbie Blair. You can find out more about outlining scenes at C.S Lakin’s,  Live, Write, Thrive and K.M. Weiland’s, Outlining your Novel.

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, and Contently.

Loglines – What DoThey Do for You?

Day 12:   

What in the world is a logline?  A one or two sentence description of what your story is about. Think of it like a five-second sales pitch.

What Does it Do for You? A well-written logline enables you to answer without any hesitation the question, What is your story about?

In addition, it helps you, the author, stay on track and spot problems within the story structure.

Essential elements of a logline:WritingLoglines

  1. The protagonist
  2. The end goal
  3. The stakes

These elements are critical to include, but be concise and use phrasing that creates interest and hooks the reader.

Here’s an  example from my current work in progress: (Be kind, I’m still toying with it)

When Bostonian Claire Nelson (protagonist) is called home after sixteen years to care for her estranged mother (goal), the secrets of her past reveal a darker betrayal (stakes) and she forced make a choice (goal).

Have you written your logline? To learn more check out: How and Why to Write a Logline for Your Story by Becca Puglisi

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilagood, and Contently.