By: Elizabeth S. Craig
I’ve been asked a few times lately to write a post about how I outline, since I’ve recently been talking about outlining.
This is something I’ve been reticent to do, since I don’t really think of myself as an outliner. My outline process does seem to work for me, though, and in the hopes it might help someone else, I’ll share it. But it’s not pretty. There are no highlighters or index cards around. And at times, it seems like the ramblings of a crazy person.
With that caveat, here we go.
Pace–I outline generally as quickly as I can. My goal is to get through the thing, look for places where the story seems weak, fix the outline, then either hand it in or start writing the book.
Format—The outline looks like a story. If I’ve really thoroughly outlined and gone scene to scene, the outline runs anywhere from ten to twenty-five pages. It’s in paragraph form. I sometimes include dialogue. There are no numbers on my outlines since I’m a fervent believer that numbers and words should stay segregated (this would explain my grades in Algebra all those years ago.)
Starting out—I write three series, so to keep my head straight, I put a list of all the recurring characters at the top of the page before I start out. I start out with my victim, as usual, and come up with a quick list of who might want to kill such a person. With that victim and that list, I start writing the outline.
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