This week, I’ve been struggling with the outline of a story. So often it seems, when planning your novel or script, you get to a point where you’re happy – or mildly satisfied – with your outline only to find a plot hole or a character motivation that doesn’t make sense.
And then you have to unpick and re-stitch this delicate garment you have been slaving over for hours and hours. It’s a bit like zipping up an overstuffed travel case only to find you’ve left out your hair-dryer or tooth paste. It’s very frustrating, isn’t it?
I think outlining is a process and a process that can’t be rushed. It goes through stages of elimination and refinement. (And perhaps it would possibly be the mark of a novice if you believed your first outline would be your final outline. What do you think?)
Four Outlining Tips
Here are a few things that helped me this week – and maybe they’ll help you too. (Whether they will work next week, who knows?)
- Breathing room. Don’t be too rigid in the outline – leave space for other ideas to grow and be open to alternative plot ideas
- Cooling off. Take short breaks – sometimes setting the outline aside for a few days gives you breathing space, and when you come back to it you’re able to think more objectively
- Tuck it under your pillow. Sleep on it – often ideas to solve problems in the plot come to you while you’re sleeping, in the shower or on the train. Write these down – but don’t be too quick to put them in your outline.
- Good ol’ common sense. Don’t get (too) hung up on structure – write the outline in a way that feels natural and makes the most sense. This will help that your story doesn’t come off as too formulaic.
If you enjoyed this post, read:
- 5 Ways To Add Love To Popular Genres
- 5 Ways To Start Using Killer Dialogue In Your Story
- How Do You Come To Story?