Monday, January 18
List in Importance: Outlining Without Outlining
I make lists when I plot.
They're like writing To-Do Lists, really. Things that I know (or think will be) important and I want to get them in there somewhere. I don't always use everything, but the act of writing the ideas down puts them in my head and they often work their way naturally into the story.
If you're not a plotter, or find outlining too restrictive, try making lists.
1. Emotional issues for the characters to deal with
Jot down the emotional issues your characters are dealing with. These are things that could be strong motivators for them, or provide the fuel for their character growth.
2. Potential cool moments
Some scenes pop into our heads, same as snippets of dialog. If something really strikes you, keep it handy in case it's exactly what you need when you get stuck.
3. Key moments in the story
Are there moment you know have to happen?
4. Key turning points
What are the key turning points that will send the story in new directions?
5. Surprises or any twists and turns
Characters have secrets, and if you know what they are, you can make great use of them as you write.
What key information needs to come out? Who holds this information? Who hears it?
7. Themes or symbolism
Themes can be a great unifying force in a novel. Jot down some ways in which you can show yours in your story. Or ideas for symbols you want to use.
8. Back story
If you know certain facts about your characters and their history, make a list. This is also a good tip for any history that pops up as you write.
Jot down events that you want to foreshadow, or drop a few hints about the bad guys.
Making lists is a great way to outline without actually outlining (or even support your outlines). You might even write down ideas you want to have happen and then look for good places to put them in as you write. Not only would they give you a bit of direction, but it's a handy reminder of what you were thinking about before you started the book.
Even better, these are great things to have on hand when you write yourself into a corner or just don't know where to go next. They can act like writing prompts and get the creative juices flowing again.