Testing New Outlining Techniques
As I’ve already mentioned (and as most of you probably already know), this month I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. My official goal is 75k, though my real goal was however many words it takes for me to finish my novel. If that’s more, I’ll write more. If it’s less, I’ll write less. I just want to finish this draft.
It’s now 8:30 pm, which means I still have plenty of writing time left before the day is over. I’ve written 36,994 words so far, and I’ve just finished chapter 11 out of 20. I had set another goal to have this novel finished by July 15, and it looks like I’m going to manage that just fine. I haven’t read back over anything that I’ve written yet, but I already know that this is my best draft so far. I’m taking more time with this draft than I have with others, and I’ve planned it a lot more than I had before.
Which brings me to the main thing I wanted to talk about today: my new way of outlining.
I mentioned already in my last post, my outline for this novel was really long – 12,494 words to be precise. My outlines are usually shorter than that, but I was attempting to write a phase outline for the first time. For those of you who don’t know what that is (and are too lazy/don’t want to click the link), that’s basically where you outline everything that happens in your novel, including bits of dialogue. So far, I’ve been averaging 6.1 words for every 1 word in the original outline, with chapters ranging from 3.5 to 12.0 novel-words per outline-word. If it keeps going at this rate, I’m looking at 75k for this novel, which is the number I was aiming for. So that works out nicely.
So far, I’m really liking this way of outline. I’ve actually sort of combined the phase outline method with the snowflake method. I start with a random list of scenes, which I then try to get in order (see my post on outlining with note cards for more details). After I’ve split them into scenes, I group them by chapter and then write a summary for each chapter, going into more detail. Then I take that outline and turn it into a phase outline.
Like I said, I’m enjoying this method. Most of the time I love planning novels but have a harder time writing the novel because it never turns out like the novel I pictured in my head. This way lets me plan the whole thing, which I find so much easier than actually writing it, so that when I go to write the actual novel, it’s just a matter of fleshing out the phases. I can still change things as I write – in fact, I’ve added lots of conversations and descriptions and mini-scenes that I never thought of while outlining – but I still have that outline that keeps me from getting stuck.
Obviously this way of writing and outlining isn’t for everyone. A lot of people find that outlining sucks the joy out of writing for them, so those types of people would probably find the method described here as crazy. Obviously, such people should not attempt it. 🙂 But if you’re like me, and you like planning things, you might want to consider giving this a shot if you don’t already have a method that works for you.
Like always, I’d love to hear more about your writing/outlining process (if you have one)! Are you participating in Camp? If so, how are you doing?