Tips For Outlining Your Story From A Pantser
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?
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