Thursday, October 14, 2021

Before Chapter One: Outline

close up image from Alexia's spiral bound notebook where she's drawn out a three act graph to fill in with plot details

 How do you start a book? 

That seems to be the most common question I get asked once it becomes known I’m a writer. And it also happens that this week’s topic is Before Chapter One: What do you have in place before you start drafting?

I may not physically be a laboratorian any longer, but inside I’ll always and forever be a lab girl. And lab people follow the procedure! Each step of the way. 

Step one, for me which means YMMV: outline

It seems like I’m in the minority when talking to others in the writing community. I love having an outline. I love knowing the main plot points from beginning to end. I love being able to see the story’s loose form right away and watch it tighten into a solid novel. 

I’m going off the before you start drafting here. Because technically before I do an outline or being my detailed synopsis, I have a scene in my mind. It’s always in full technicolor—meaning I can see, smell, feel, and hear everything in that scene. 

Preferably, I want that key scene to marinate in my brain for a good 3-6 months before I explore it further. And I really want to have a story idea for a solid year before I start writing it. I find that the words flow out of me much easier if I take the time to do that. 

Once I have the scene and MCs (main characters) formed, I do a three act outline and from there I start my synopsis which usually rounds out around 6 pages. From there I break the synopsis into chapters so I have at least one sentence for each one. As this process is happening I’m researching names and places and adding images to their respective folder in Scrivener. 

Does anyone else pre-plan the crap out of their novel? And if you do, how much do you put into your program/Scrivener? 

No comments:

Post a Comment