So here’s the deal; we all at one point wrote something without an outline. If you are one of those people who discovered it worked wonderfully well, I suppose this post is irrelevant! If like me you set every single word that you wrote without a plan on the fire, welcome!
I’m one of those who loves outlining. I know it sounds crazy. The reason is that I managed to find a way to outline my book, without making me bored of my own story. That seems to be the main argument against outlining.
So how do I go about doing it? I first outline the beginning and the end. Those have the tendency to be vague so that they don’t set too much of my story in stone. It however helps me to know which characters are in the story and where they are meant to end up. I backwards outline. I start at the end of my story and slowly edge backwards along its timeline. I jot down a phrase that explains each crucial part of the story, each jolt, each turn and each moment that is narrative progression.
Usually, but not all the time, with this outline, I can divide my story into chapters. And then I start to write. For each chapter, the moment I reach it, I do a precision outline. My characters in each chapter must go to point A to point B all the while including a number of subplots that must tie-in. That single precision outline made, I write out my chapter. Longhand. I write without bothering about the language, the style, or even the dialogue. I shovel sand into a sandbox.
And lastly, I do my favourite outline. which I call my descriptive outline. Now that I know precisely what is happening in that chapter, how can I polish the writing and putting it to the service of the tale? I do this as an outline, instead of changing the text directly, so that it has coherence. It is also what enables me to create echoes, rhythm, pacing, and not just work on making pretty words.
So, as you might’ve guessed, I take ages to write anything. I guess I’m a perfectionist. All that for a first draft I hear you groan! Indeed! But that’s what works for me. Take all of this advice, try it out, and change it to suit your writing style.