Sadly, the fact of the matter is, if I want to actually finish a novel or even just a story, I need some sort of outline. If I don't, without fail I run out of steam one third of the way in.
So what do I do?
There might be a more technical term. Brainstorming? Freewriting? I jot down my ideas like I'm having a conversation with my notebook. Something like this...
Ball + 3 brothers.
x 2 war heroes?
Quite close. Family bankrupted by boys' mother, one must marry well. Oldest is steward for estate, loves it but has to toe line with evil stepmother to keep eye on boys.
And so it goes on in that vein. Notes of ideas, crossed out and rewritten until I have an idea of who the main protagonists are.
Then this. A diagram featuring my hero and heroine with random scribbles surrounding them. Back story, physical features, characteristics, all sorts. Here's the one for my Red Riding Hood story - note some are crossed out. I'm still thinking, still playing with ideas.
I've written notes for other characters, plot ideas, drivers.
A visual storyboard, that's what. Here's my pinterest board for my Red Riding Hood story:
Red Riding Hood
I'm a strongly visual person, so having a visual storyboard really helps me to clarify my thinking. Next up?
Character sheet. But not the excel sheet type. I've tried excel sheets but in my world, excel and writing are not a happy mix. Not even when I make the cells pretty colours. No. It's back to the notebook again:
I have an image now of what Tabitha (my heroine) looks like. I'm building a character around that and I'm thinking about:
- Her back story and drivers
- Her physical characteristics
- What she does when she's nervous or angry
- Her fatal flaws
- The things she cares about
Lastly, I will scrawl out the main plot points. I know they will end up together - but in what circumstances? What do they both need to be free of or to learn in order to be happy? How will I force them to achieve that?
And then I write, though chances are by this point I will have written a page or even a chapter or two already. I'm impatient, what can I say?
What about you? How do you plot? Outline? Write?