It’s an Outline Life

Credit image: GraphicStock.

An idea for a story has taken over your mind and soul story needs a backstory, something that serves as clues, guide posts so to speak, to the nature of our characters. To explain why they do the things they do, and to ensure that their actions are consistent with their personality. The same thing can be applied to the setting, the environment they live in because even towns/cities/villages/counties have their own personalities which can also clash with or support the character(s) own personality.
This is why writing an outline for your novel is important. However, there are countless writing guides on how to write an outline, for example The Snowflake Method. With so many how to write an outline/novel techniques, how do you decide which one is best for you? Sadly, I can’t tell you that as ultimately you’ll have to find which method works for you. Even then you don’t have to follow it explicitly.

“Is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.”-Captain Barbossa, an excerpt of the Pirate’s code from Pirates of the Caribbean.

I approach my outlines as a writing stock of story preparation, to add onto the more you write and serve as the basis for your novel. And to build my writing stock I use a bullet list. I’d first write down on paper the name of  the character(s), place or thing. Next, I build a history that I can go back to use as a reference. Then, I build a dossier table in order to form a clearer picture of who they are, what they are doing and why, when and how. I also link them to photos so that it becomes easier to describe them and their surroundings. All of this helps keep the storytelling consistent as well as show the interrelationships between characters, settings, plot, etc. Last, I type it all in Word, add some additional traits and plots, and save them in individual folders and in Evernote. I’d like to use Scrivener as well for storyboard purposes as it allows you to edit multiple documents as a whole. Alas I have a chromebook and Scrivener has not made an app for us users (Hint: Make. One. Soon!)

In the end, my outline that had been broken up by character, setting and plots, creatures/weaponry/machinery, etc looks like this:

(excerpt) Harbingers of El Tinor Character Profile- Cassandra:

Cassandra, similar to Lucinda as she uses subterfuge; def-
1)Deceit used in order to achieve one’s goal.
2) A statement or action resorted to in order to deceive
always hated her ability, since it was the cause of her parents death-when her parents realized about her gift at the age 7, they made her promise not to let anyone find out. if she was discovered, she would be taken from them by the government, living in a gilded cage,forced to use her visions to greed of power, money and lust of the officials. But at the age 11-12, an incident with her friend help save her…asked how she knew, Cassandra confided in her and sworn to secrecy. Which she did, but did not understand and in awe in having afriend with a gift she told her parents. Her parents realizing what she was, told thegovernment for an award. The friend overhears what her parents have done and warns the family and that they’re sending someone at sundown which will be in 2 hours or less…luckily his sister came to visit and was leaving that day and he pleaded with her to take their daughter with them. The friend cries, apologize, hugs her goodbye and leaves. While everyone else is scrambling around, packing her things, Cassandra gets a vision of her parents being arrested and publicly sentenced for treason.
-orchestrates the meetings with various characters, fighting a battle with fate
When she’s thinking her cheeks gets slightly rounder (Bowen, side character, notices this and doesn’t think anything
good will come of it)…

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