I understand that many of you are in a serious, committed relationship with pantsing–or writing from the seat of your pants–but hear me out! Even reformed pantsers report that outlining, even just a little, significantly improves writing speed and consistency (that means fewer bouts of the deaded writer’s block). So consider experimenting a bit. Fraternize with the enemy a little.
But this blog post isn’t intended for those cheating on their usual method. It’s for anyone who is looking for a different, more efficient method for staying on track, preventing plot holes, and writing a more well-rounded first draft. (Note: This method is also a great way to find plot holes during revisions.)
Most outlines begin with a list of the main plot points or important events, also known as pinch points. These could be one or two lines, or lengthy paragraphs. Sprinkled in (or around), most likely, are also the little images in your mind that you wish to include.
CREATE A TIMELINE
Before you sit down to write, you need to determine the scope of your project. That means, how much time will elapse between the beginning and the end. It could be a day, or it could be over fifty years. If your story covers more than a day or week or so, you may also want to consider major world events that you could lace into the narrative to make your world feel more rounded (however, this can be done in revisions).
Once you’ve determined your scope, list the main events of your story out on a timeline. Like I said, this could just be a note (Robin receives a phone call) or a line or so. After you decide on the order of your events, determine how much time passes between each event. Consider travel time, work time, bathroom breaks, eating, etc. You probably also want to determine how long each scene should take.
I started using this method while revising COLOSSUS, forgot about it, then started using it again in order to finish writing Two Guns. I was struggling toward the end, muddling in the doldrums, when I found a page from a calendar that I had created for COLOSSUS, in which *a lot* happens in a short period of time: a little under one month. Since Two Guns runs concurrent to COLOSSUS, and one character is fluid between the narratives, it was necessary to get these timelines straight.
Now, I did not come up with this idea; I read it in Rachel Aaron’s book 2k to 10k, where she uses this to help her revise: On your timeline, make a note on each event on where all of the other characters are during that scene, and what they might be doing. Not only does this help with accountability, but it may even help write more scenes.
I hope y’all find this method useful. If you try it out, let me know how it goes in the comments below!
What else is Jette up to?
My first creepy captivity short, Nails, has been published on Amazon for Kindle! It’s a quick, 10-15 minute read. Click on the book cover to buy it for .99c or leave a review! If you’re poor (or just cheap), you can find a previous draft here, so you can leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
I have two other creepy captivity shorts lined up to publish, one month apart. Housebreaking comes out on September 26th, and Tears comes out on October 24th. Although I don’t know what’s going to occur between Tears and the last one, I do know how it’s going to end, and I’ve very excited to write it!
In five short days, September 5th, my first piece will be published under my romantic penname, Anna Lillian Wade! I sincerely believe Mathematical Kisses is the cutest piece I’ve ever written, and I’m head-over-heels about my characters, Agents Robin and Elliot Leslie. In fact, I think I’ll post a sample from it after I complete this blog. Also a quick read, 30-45 minutes, if you read it, please leave a review!
Click on the cover to check it out:
Want more Avery Rhodes? Check out becomingcolossus.wordpress.com/