Friday, September 30, 2011

Outlining A Book

I've been thinking of helpful topics that I can write about for anyone who is interested in writing a book or getting published.  I thought about writing about how I outline a story.  And then I ran across a blog entry written by the talented Jaye Wells that lays out how she outlines a book.  It turns out we're very similar.  In fact, she does such a fine job of telling you how she does it that I really don't have much to add.

So, go to Jaye's blog to read a great example of how to outline a book.
Jaye Wells: Outline Schmoutline

Differences: change poster board to large blank wall for me
Difference: add a few more colors (usually 5-7 colors) as I try to keep track of how often certain main characters appear, where the fight scenes are, and where the sex is.

Plotting is heavy into balance and pacing.

Once I'm done with outlining a book on the wall, I move it over to the computer where I create an outline I can easily reference when I'm writing.  It's a series of extremely short notes that helps me remember where I'm headed with each story.

Here is an example of the outline that I created for Dayhunter:

Mira and Tristan hunt in London
            Encounter Nightshade & witch
Group (Mira, Danaus, Tristan) leave for Coven – Venice
            Discuss power use at Themis
            Mira promises to protect D.
Mira and Danaus find Naturi at Coven
Danaus sees Mira’s scars
Speak with Valerio & Gwen
Alex tells of ashes in U.K.
            Sees elf
            Mira attempts to attack Elders
            Coven needs time to consider
Speaks with Alex & Vasili
            Great Awakening
            Machu Picchu/Fey
Mira & Danaus at Torcello
            Danaus bckgrd           
            Mira bckgrd

**The red font indicates a fight scene. **

If you've read the book, you know there's a lot in the book that doesn't appear in the outline.  The notes are brief.  I just need enough to jog loose my memory of what I had planned for that particular scene in the book.  Most people who saw the outline wouldn't understand it and in many ways, the outline changes as I go.  

The outline is not carved in stone.
It is there to act as a guide to keep you moving forward.  It helps you stay focused and give direction when you are encountering some writer's block.  If a brilliant idea hits you while you're working, feel free to tweak the plot.  Characters are constantly surprising writers with the new directions they want to take.  You have to be willing to tackle the unexpected with your characters.  For me, some of my best stuff has come from things that I didn't originally plan.


Rebecca McCoy said...

that's what I do when I'm writing. Though my biggest problem is even though I've written the notes I sometimes forget where i was going with it. So I've had to take to writing more in depth notes for my stories.

Jocelynn said...

When I'm working on a new series, I've found that I've had to write a number of essays to help give me the proper background for the world that I'm creating. Some of these notes help to develop plots for later books and stories.

Anonymous said...

did you know that the hunter(D) would would hurt Mira with a human? Was it part of the plot when you started? He broke my heart in that book.

Jocelynn said...

Anonymous: I'm assuming that you're referring to the events in Wait for Dusk. Yes, that one didn't stray too far from the original plot that I had worked out, so I knew what was going to happen. Come on, I couldn't make it too easy for Mira and Danaus. :)