I found a Vlogger that I really like who is also an author named Jenna Moreci. Her youtube channel is the same as her name. In one of her videos, she tells you her method for outlining which I have decided to adopt for one of the book ideas I mentioned in yesterday’s post.
Step One: Thought Dump
Write down everything you can think of in relation to the novel.
- Scene Ideas
- Snippets of Dialogue
- Character Stuff
- Plot Stuff
- Any Background Information
- World Building Stuff
She does this by typing into her phone or computer. I decided to do this longhand in a notebook I just bought. Find a way that works for you.
Keep going until you have a significant amount of content, whatever that means to you. Her final outlines are detailed and have 30+ pages. Yours can have a lot less. Again, find a way that works for you.
Step Two: Puzzle Phase
Look through your thought dump notes and pull out important scenes. Write them on notecards or Post-Its. Color code them if you like.
- Red: Violence
- Pink: Romance
- Purple: Friendship
Place them in the order you would like them to appear, leaving room for time jumps in between the scenes. If you use Post-Its you can place them on a large poster board. If you use notecards you can pin them on a cork board, tape them to the wall, or use the floor.
Add in scenes where there are blank spaces.
Remember, this step only includes the major scenes or happenings in the novel, not everything in the thought dump.
Things to include:
- The Inciting Incident
- First Kiss
- Fight Scenes
- Character Deaths
Step Three: Outline
Transfer all of the notecards from the puzzle phase into a color-coded computer document. You can use whatever software you like. Start going through your notes from the thought dump and decide where they’ll need to go in the story. These are all of the less significant things like snippets of dialogue, character stuff, and background stuff.
Add everything in the color-code you have created and in chronological order. Keep going until you feel you have enough to work with to write the novel.
Go back through and cut anything that is not essential to the novel. Does a character only show up in two scenes? Cut him. Any of the “fat” you can trim at this point to make your novel streamlined and so every scene contributes to the plot is best to cut out now. That way, you don’t cut out thousands of words you spent time and effort writing. It’s easier to do it at this stage of the game.
Step Four: Begin the First Draft
Start writing! Follow the outline as long as it works. If you need to change something, go ahead and do it. Do whatever you need to do. The outline is only meant as a guide, it is not set in stone.
I hope this will help writers out there with their writing process. I am going to try it and see how it works for me. I am in the Thought Dumping step for my new novel (I am still working on the old one which has stalled around 43,000 words.) Good luck with your writing!