When I sat down to write my first novel “Always a Victim” I started from the beginning with a rough draft until I wrote every chapter with anywhere from 800 to 3,500 words each. In between writing chapters I’d read about outlining vs. a rough draft. I’d already written my rough draft which was a mess and scolded myself for not reading about outlines before I started. So I thought I have to edit this story regardless of where and how I started it so what the heck; I’d do an outline after the fact. This was my saving grace and by not outlining first was the best mistake I ever made. For me outlining turned into so much more than just listing what I want in each chapter and scene. It’s where I was able to put the details into each part moving me closer to my first draft; therefore outlining my story is my second step instead of my first.
Here’s how it worked for me. Once I finished my rough draft I had a friend edit it and provide their comments, which I saved if I thought a good point had been made. I found a wonderful writing tool called yWriter that is designed to aid in every phase of writing. Since my rough draft had been done and I set it aside for a month, it was time to get back to business and work toward my first draft. I took each chapter from my rough draft, copied and pasted it into the yWriter software and then created my outline where I broke each chapter down into scenes. For me, this provided a much more organized approach and I was able to see exactly how each chapter moved forward to the next, the relevancy of each scene to the entire story and that many scenes should actually be a whole new chapter. Once the scenes are set for each chapter, I’m able to detail how I want each scene to play out or what I want included so when I go back to it everything is summarized. Here’s what it looks like:
Nate sulks at home and at work about Michelle. He knows he was out of line and a real ass and has serious doubts he’ll be able to fix it. Clarence has had enough of the act and tells Nate as much laying out before him exactly what he had and how he screwed it up and that he’d better fix it otherwise he’s a fool.
Michelle returns home and tries to blow Nate off when he tries to make things right. In a rant of sorts she tells him she doesn’t have time to deal with his theatrics, spills her guts about everything she’d learned. She tells him that he has some nerve judging her when he needs to take a good look in the mirror. She reminds him how he uses his father’s disease as a crutch and an excuse to think he’s better than everyone else because he had to fend for himself when in fact he’s one of the weakest people she knows.
They both reveal their true feelings for one another but neither know how or if it’s possible to move past all that’s happened and build a life together.
Clearly this chapter is a pivotal point for the main characters and I wanted to make sure I detailed exactly what should be include. I’ve written each scene based on the summaries above. It’s organized and gives me a clear picture.
I know this approach may not work for everyone and it may seem redundant but I’ve found it’s a fantastic way to map out a story.
This software also allows the writer to set goals for each chapter, add notes and will produce a synopsis for review. It’s easy to use no matter what your writing methods are. Everything is easily edited or moved around from one chapter to another without losing your work.