Today, I want to talk about outlines and timelines. I’m going to give you my take on them and why they’ve become an added step in my writing process. I’ll also update you on my progress with the series so far. So, grab your beverage of choice and lets dive into the next step of my writing method.
Now that I have people with a purpose living in a magical, fictional world, I need to find out what their story is about. What are their goals? What do they want? What steps do they take to hit those goals? What setbacks do they encounter, and much more. The outline is my breadcrumb trail of their story. It’s my guide that I use during the drafting process which helps keep the story organized. I don’t always write scenes in order, so that breadcrumb trail is a sanity saver, especially when it’s time to hit those edits, rewrites, and revisions.
I wasn’t always a fan of outlining. In fact, I hated outlines and I dreaded writing them. All of that hate and dread came from the formal, rigid outlines I was used to from school. When I first started writing Book One, I didn’t use an outline for that reason alone. I just wrote whatever random scenes played out in my head and eventually finished my first draft. The finished product was a hot and chaotic mess. When it came to editing, I knew I had a serious rewrite on my hands. I also knew that I needed to reorganize my first draft before heading into that rewrite. I wasn’t about to repeat the same mistake twice.
Even with a disorganized mess on my hands, I was still resistant to writing up an outline. So I eased into it by starting with a timeline. I printed up a calendar and penciled in the book’s major events and plot points. It helped me piece some parts of the story together, but the overall picture still wasn’t playing out the way I needed it to. It was lacking some important details I needed in order to place all the pieces together in a series of coherent events.
The timeline was a great start but it wasn’t enough. My breadcrumb trail needed more crumbs to guide me through the drafting process and keep me on track. Then I wondered why I had to use a traditional outline in the first place. Why couldn’t I just make my own? Make it flexible and open to change. Make it my own style. Tailor it to my specific needs. Screw the formalities. There was no rule stating I had to use the same formal outline I used in class years before. I tested out my own method, kept myself open to any changes, and wouldn’t you know – it worked.
I know some writers say that outlines kill the creative process, but it’s the opposite for me. Outlines fuel my creativity. That’s because my cast walks me through the story. I see the scenes play out like they do in a TV series. They’re all interconnected and launch from one episode into the next. I don’t always see everything the first time around and it can be a bumpy road at times. Sometimes, I get static and when that happens, I jump ahead to the next part, then return to fill in whatever blanks are left. This process is usually repeated multiple times. I fill in as much information about the story that I know before I start drafting. It takes me anywhere from a couple of weeks to about a month to get an outline down. That might seem like a lot of time, but I have a lot of details to fill out. It also makes the editing and revision process go much more smoothly afterwards.
As for my outlining process, I use scene titles and bullet points. I start out by writing down my entire cast of characters for that particular book and then highlighting the POVs that’ll be used. Next, I divide my outline up into a three act structure and fill in what details I know. This includes scenes, settings, character goals, emotions, conflict, dilemmas, resolutions, and more.
Because I don’t always write in order, an outline helps me figure out where a scene fits into the story. It also helps me move scenes around, delete them, or add new ones in. When I look at the outline, I can see the overall picture. I can see what’s working and what’s not, then take it from there. I know that not everyone does this and some see it as a waste of time, but it’s just how my brain works. This is my way of staying organized. And organization is important when you’re working on two series with multiple books and overarching plots.
That’s pretty much my take on outlines and timelines. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment below. Now, I want to catch you up on what’s been going on with me and the books.
Where Things Stand
The last couple of months have been pretty productive, which I’m beyond thrilled about. Cutting back on my social media time has really gotten things moving in a fluid and forward motion. I’ve made good progress on The Witches of Luna Cove Series. Everything’s starting to come together slowly and smoothly.
As for where things are with the books, TWOLC Book One is getting a much needed break from revisions in November as I get ready to start rewrites on Book Two. After I finish up with that, I plan on hitting up another round of edits and revisions on Book One. Some of you might wonder why I jump between the two and it’s because I always give my manuscript a break after edits and revisions. I’ll explain why in a future post next month.
As I continue to work on Books One and Two, I’m also planning and outlining the next five books. I’ve already started them and Book Three will be ready for edits next year. I’ve already started the outlines and timelines for Books Four and Five. Book Six has also been determined. It’s been a busy couple of months, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the way this series continues to evolve and grow.
I also want to note some added changes to this site. I’ve added a new playlist for Book One and updated the previous one. I’ve also added a few more pics, one which includes one of my favorite quotes. Go ahead and check them out. More content will be added in the coming months along with updates and an announcement coming by the end of this year. Stay tuned. Hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween! Until next time.