No? All right, not that kind of plotting then. So when I do I mean when I use the word? I mean structure, brainstorming, preparing the guide to get from point A to point B. I kind of touched on this before with my Brainstorming post, but the way I see it, there’s a difference between initial ideas, and structure once you get started.
After that first word, even (sometimes especially) with a whole lot of ideas in mind, it’s very easy to to get sidetracked and end up in the middle of nowhere without any idea how to get back to the main road. And on that note, I’m going to try to stop with the metaphors.
There are hundreds of different ways to structure a good outline. Just like with the brainstorming, some people don’t bother with them at all, but I would be completely lost. Sometimes it consists of a few loose notes, sometimes a very rigid and specific point form list, it all depends on my state of mind on any given day.
There are days when my brain works only to outline. I have no creative insight, but I’m able to see the story progress in a linear way. I take advantage of those days. It takes me back to the days of essay writing in university where I would do all of my research, prepare all of my supporting quotations, jot down ideas for all opening and concluding sentences and make a list of questions I want answered. After that, it’s just a game of fill in the blanks.
I also find it gets more intense the further into the story I get. On days when I hit the Wall (you remember that wonderful moment, right? The one where you want to bang your head against something hard), I turn to my outlines like a life raft (and there I go with my similes. Apologies.) my final chapters are usually plotted out scene for scene with the occasional bit of dialogue thrown in to make it just shy of an actual draft.
If you can’t tell, I’m currently going through one of these phases at the moment. I have at least five pages of notes in my journal, full of questions I don’t know the answer to and need to mull over, dialogue snippets, new character introductions, and a series of plot points I need to hit. If you feel like you’re adrift on a sea of indecision and incoherence (more similes!) I highly recommend you take the time to pause, assess, and jot notes before moving on. It may be the difference between a strong novel and this rambling blog post.