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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Bourbon

Tips For Outlining Your Story From A Pantser

Hello, Writers!!

This week one of my goals was to get my new romantic comedy novel outlined in the 7 story arcs required in rom-coms. It got me thinking about outlining in general and why this pantser is trying it!!

YES, a lifelong pantser is finally getting organized~

Why? That's so not you Stephanie, what gives?

Well, I took a workshop at the 2021 Iceland Writers' Retreat with author Terry Fallis and he talked about how he outlines for 14 months and his outlines are like 90 pages--HOLY-CANNOLI! That's insane--or is it?

Outlining can save a lot of headaches in revisions and I always ask my clients for their outlines when I start working with them because I need to see their vision. Imagine working with a novel client and them saying, oh I'll just see how it goes. Then, it's not possible for me to do my job. When I was script-doctoring on sets, I would always request the beat-sheets (that's screenwriting's industry way of saying-outlining) to know what the intent was before things got all jumbled up. In television writing, they will require a beat sheet before you get the green light to flush it out, and I always do the same when working with TV writers-it's a must!

Pantsing my way through novels has just been something I did when I started writing because I didn't have time to outline-or so I thought and then I became the queen of NaNoWriMo and being a Hermione, I had to follow the rules precisely and when it started, no outlining was allowed. I found it freeing!

But then I spend years revising, so listening to Terry talk about this, I had an epiphany "maybe this crazy Canadian is on to something!"

I'm trying it!

Here is my process and I think if you try it it will help you too!

(this is all after I have my main characters done--I love One Stop For Writers for character)

1. First, get the main story arcs down (I am writing romantic comedy so I have 7, but you can use any story model that fits you. 3 acts, 6 acts, 7 arcs, 5 main plotting, etc.) and write them down.

2. Then I will go in and make sure everything will hit in the right place via the structure taught by Martha Alderson in her Plot Whisperer workbook-this is a great way to revise as well.

3. Write out each chapter-what happens in each.

4. Write out the scenes in each chapter

5. Did deeper into characters and scenes.

I think this will be an amazing process and I am excited to try it!!

How about you? Do you plot or pants?

I'd love to hear from you! Jump into the FREE FB group for female writers or reply to this email!

Happy Writing!

XO Stephanie

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