How I Outline Stories- Keeping Your Characters and Plotline In Check

Well, whaddya know? There actually IS more to writing than vomiting words onto paper… or in this case, vomiting words onto your screen.

 

This post is inspired by my friend Phoebe over at So It Is (Re)Written. If you’re looking for more ideas on how to help outline your story, I highly suggest running over to her blog to take notes. She’s a treasure trove of knowledge when it comes to writing~

Bonus points if you can find my comment over in her comment section!


 

You’re sitting down with a nice cup of your favorite drink in the coziest spot you can write in. Or you came back from a break, feeling uninspired and confused on where to go next.  You feel like you needed to review your story just so that you can get back into the swing of things.

You’re sitting at your computer or flipping through your notebooks, looking at your manuscript.

And this is when you realize:

This is chaos. WHAT HAPPENED??? What wrong turn did I make?!?!?

A few of your characters are bi-polar, have changed personalities, or lost their personality completely. They’re running all over the play-set you’ve made, hoping that they’d play safely. But instead, the children are stuck up on top of the monkey bars wailing loudly for you to come save them, the adults are stuck in the baby swings who need to be cut out, a character that you thought you could depend on has disappeared for a grocery run to the store and never came back, and random back-burner characters materialize themselves to come help sort out the mess.

I don’t even want to mention the crater-sized plot holes that’s developed right by the slides.

So…

What’s next?

 

NEVER FEAR- FOR OUTLINE MAN IS HERE!

 

Outlining saves you from ruining your story- and saves time.

I know, I know-

I hear the gasps of the Pantsers and Unplanners that think that any type of outlining ruins organic storytelling.

no marry Brave gif.gif

I know because I used to think the exact same things.

This ENFP pantser refused to let any of their creativity corralled by outlines. Fah! Outlines were for suckers!

…That was, until I started writing with a good INFJ friend that showed me exactly how beneficial having an outline was.

  • It keeps your plot focused
  • It keeps you excited about what’s going to come next
  • You have less frequent writer’s block
  • Your characters are always (kinda) at the places they’re supposed to be
  • You have a HOPE of finishing this manuscript
  • Less plot holes!!!
  • Ice cream
  • wait, what?

I think there’s also a misconception about outlining for those of you who’ve never done that for their stories before.

You don’t have to have every detail planned out if you don’t want to. There are different styles of outlining that allow for room to get creative and let those organic thoughts flow.

I’m going to be showing you guys how I outline for my stories so that maybe it’ll give you some ideas on how you might want to go about planning your next adventures.

 

Things to consider:

Which writing program do you use?

I personally use Google Docs because it makes sharing with friends easy in case I ever want to make my story available to beta read. (my story and i need constant attention and care) Another reason why I use google Docs is because it can be accessible anywhere I have internet.

The best part is that if I somehow were to delete everything by mistake, Google docs has a backup. You can access your deleted story by checking your recent saves in google drive, and restore everything back to normal.

OKAY. Enough with the chatter- I shall show you how I outline!

 

I outline by chapter, and what my characters do in the chapter.

I even came prepared with pictures today. LOL.

 

(my apologies for the crappy quality of the second picture)

I insert a table into google docs to help keep everything clean and neat. Then once I have that in there, I start setting the chapters up.

 

Doc 3

 

BOOM. Now that the characters have their own columns, I just add in what they do that chapter.

 

Doc 4

 

The reason why I like to do this type of outlining in particular is because I can keep track of what every character is doing at any given point of time.

No character gets forgotten or left behind, I know what they HAVE to be doing in order for the plot to progress, and every character mentioned will be important to the plot. There’s a lot of freedom for creativity and free reign in your story in this type of outlining too.

 


 

So…

What are your thoughts?

Are you a pantser that refuses to plan, are you SUPER organized and detailed, or are you somewhere in the middle? How do you outline your stories?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

As always, thanks for reading to the end of the post.

~Felicity Annora

4 thoughts on “How I Outline Stories- Keeping Your Characters and Plotline In Check

Add yours

    1. LOL. Yes- the jelly on the rope trick. The most deadly one in the books!

      I hear ya. Even as much as I’ve begun to outline my stories this way, I end up creating messy lists to throw information in there that I’ll need as the story progresses because it doesn’t fit into my outline sometimes.

      Like

  1. First of all, that gif is absolute perfection!!

    Oooh, visual ai- *gasp* Bob!

    Honestly, none of those characters got their happy ending…

    I’m more planner than pantser, but I’m not very organized about it.

    This post was fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL!!! Thank you! I just had that one pop into my head, and I realized that I needed it in my post.

      YES. ALL OF THE VISUAL AIDS. Poor Bob indeed, The count technically got what he wanted, but not what he needed. XD

      Thank you soo muchhhhh! I love comments like this. It makes me happy to know what I got right. C:

      Liked by 1 person

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SMELLFOY CAN READ?

Where I pretend I'm not actually Smaug

So It Is (Re)Written

from concepts to final drafts - and everything in-between

Art of Annastacia Henry-Ramos

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My Myopic Heart

An impatient 20-something learning to embrace life, her low-funtioning sociopathic dog, and a budget.

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