Writing Process--Chapter Outlines

In my discussion on writing the synopsis on Monday, I was reminded of the value that a strong chapter outline can have for the marketing of your novel. I met Tim Dorsey at last year's First Coast Writer's Festival and he mentioned that a large part of his process was outlining scenes on note cards and arranging them on a cork board. By putting the scenes in close proximity to each other, he could arrange them chronologically, linearly--any way that would lead to the best fluidity of the plot. I've not ever tried this, but I think this weekend I'll conduct my own method of chapter outlining.

I'm at a crucial juncture in my WIP. When I reached the (roughly) midpoint of my first novel, I found it a tremendous aid to do two things:

1) Print out all of my chapters and take stock of their size and content. I checked for repetition and looked for balance in my scenes.

2) I also sketched the synopses for chapters sixteen through thirty-five. This changed numerous times as I worked through the revisions with Bernadette and Gretchen, but it helped me immensely in plotting the course for finishing the rough draft and typing "The End."

Like I said, I'm just about there so it's time to put together another partial outline. I like the freedom of allowing a story to germinate and blossom spontaneously. But there seems to come a time (and the story dictates that--it's an organic thing) when the piece calls out for structure and shaping.

I'd love to hear about your various approaches to plotting and organization. The process of storytelling is, to me, almost as interesting as the story itself.

1 comment:

Flyered Up said...

Neat idea. Myself, if I have more than one POV, I will write them separately. Basically they read like their own story. After numerous edits I then combine them into one novel and for whatever reason they fit perfectly. It works for me.

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