Preptober Diaries: My Outlining Process

Hey everyone! This week on the Preptober Diaries, I wanted to share my outlining process with all of you. I’m a huge plotter, like a huge plotter. Funny thing is, I wasn’t always a plotter at all. I used to be a pantser. I hated plotting anything out before I wrote it. Now I don’t write unless I have a great plot structure ready to go.

First off, if you don’t know what a plotter or pantser is. A plotter is someone who plans out and plots their book out before writing. For instance, I plot out my book, outline the details, use scene cards and so much more. A Pantser is someone who flies by the seat of their pants and just writes the story as it comes to them.

Now that we’ve established that I’m a total plotter, let’s chat about my process. When I first start with a book, like my current work in progress, I brain dump first. I sit down with a blank piece of paper or my iPad Goodnotes and just get everything out of my head that has to do with the book I’m working on. I mean every little detail that I already know.

I move that into my Scrivener document and start setting that up. Then from there, I start to take that brain dump and start thinking of the overall plot. I use the three-act story structure and the plotting worksheets from the amazing and talented author Sarra Cannon. If you’re not part of her community, it’s a must! She’s such an inspiration to me. Anyway, with the three-act story structure, you have several plot points and Act’s that you have to work through. Now, this doesn’t come to me in one sitting. This takes several for me to even come close to getting this down, but that brain dump I did first really does help this process.

Now sometimes I don’t have certain plot points figured out and that’s okay, you don’t have to know every little detail before writing, as long as you know your story. I do try to know and have all the plot points there, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

After going through the three-act story structure, I go back through it and add more detail to each plot point. Adding extra things that add to the storyline. As soon as I have that finished, which is what’s called the long outline. I start breaking those plot points down into scenes. YEP, told you I was a heavy plotter. Now, this doesn’t mean my story/characters won’t change while writing, but this is how I start everything.

Those scenes we were talking about end up going onto scene cards and kept close by when I’m writing. This helps me remember conflict and the reason I wanted each scene in the story. I also add these to my index cards on my Scrivener, that way I have them in several places.

I know this process won’t work for everyone, it’s what works for me. I know some of you will look at this and be like nope and that’s okay. I just wanted to share with you all what it takes for me to even start writing the first draft.

It’s almost time for NaNoWriMo 2022 to start and I’m super excited. I can’t wait to share book 3 with all of you. I love these characters so much! They’re going to be fun to write. I am ready for NaNo, all the steps above have been completed and I’m so ready to write.

I’ll share some more tips for getting through NaNo next week! I’ll also be sharing posts about my progress throughout the month of November. Not sure if I’m going to do daily posts yet, but I’ll see what I can do. If you’re going to be participating in NaNo this year, let me know in the comments, I would love to cheer you on. Also, let me know if you’re a plotter or a pantser!

I wish you so much luck with NaNoWriMo this year and I’m cheering you on. You’ve got this!!!

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