My first novel, Bloodstone (working title), which is currently in its 2nd draft (more like 7 or 8, if you count the early attempts) started with a raw outline. But I was a teen when I started it. I didn’t know how stories work or how to create realistic characters, so the outline broke down very quickly. I spent most of high school and college reworking the story in my spare time, teaching myself to recognize crap and scrape it out.
While my writing group reads Bloodstone’s 2nd draft, I’m starting a new novel. The whole ‘discover it as you go’ process was fun last time, but Bloodstone took 10 years to write. Now that I know what I’m doing, it’s time to try a different approach. For this WIP, I want a full first draft in 1 year, maybe even 1 month (I’m looking at you, NaNoWriMo!).
Since I know how to create rounded characters and dynamic plot lines, I can plan ahead. And since this novel has a Korean protagonist, which I am super excited about, I need to research a ton. My goal is to gather enough material so I can blast through NaNo and write a bulletproof draft 1. With a baby to take care of, I don’t have time to churn out draft after draft, so I’d rather use my experience to create a better product in the first go. (Dare I say product? Many cringe at that word, but if you plan to publish, get used to business/marketing speak)
For the new WIP, I have an elevator pitch (seems backwards, but Save the Cat supports my impulse to get to the heart of the story ASAP), a few rough character profiles, an outline of act I, and many miscellaneous plot points. I plan on sifting through information until I can wrap my mind around the entire plot and until I have all the ‘why’s addressed, so I don’t stumble on plot holes mid-draft. There are a lot of ways to outline a novel and in my preliminary research I found a few helpful articles:
- 8 Ways to Outline a Novel – Lit Reactor
- Does a High School Protagonist Mean your Book is Young Adult? – Writers Digest
- Hero’s Journey Archetypes – StoryForge Productions
Are you an outliner? Why or why not?