OK, that title may be a little misleading, it should actually read ‘How to write a really in-depth outline in 30 days’ but that didn’t seem quite as exciting.
I have found a resource that I’m currently completely obsessed with. If, like me, you have spent many of your preciously snatched writing hours devoted to the art of procrastination, you may well have hopped from website to website devouring information on how to get that nugget of an idea from your head and onto the page. I have spent entire mornings jumping around attention grabbing articles on Pinterest about scene setting, character sketches, internal and external conflicts – yada yada yada – and still come away with no solid modus operandi. What I usually come away with is a recipe for a really delicious looking chocolate cake and enlarged hips, because that’s what happens when you apply the ‘distracted by shiny things on the internet’ factor.
Well, not anymore. I have found what I’ve been looking for, an idiot’s guide to organising the tangle of people and places in my head into a structure that resembles an actual book. Hallelujah! I stumbled across it on The Guardian website who have published an edited extract of a book by Karen Wiesner called First Draft in 30 Days (Writer’s Digest Books).
It is just divine for someone like me who lives to make lists and tick things off with a satisfying swipe of the pen. It runs you step by step through the brainstorming process, and then sets you a schedule by which you build a detailed picture of the characters, conflicts and settings in your book – heavenly!
It then encourages your basic plot and summary outline to develop into the more structured outline that you will add to and grow into your first draft as you incorporate research and all of the necessary layers and subplots.
On top of this feat of organisation, it provides you with all the worksheets that you should need to record the information that is, by now, tumbling from your head. If I have one gripe with this whole resource it’s that these worksheets are in PDF format rather than something I can edit, but I found that I can easily copy and paste the worksheets into Scrivener so I am an oasis of calm again now.
If you are looking for a resource to help you with your structure and plotting, I urge you to try it. Even if you are a pantster and have just recoiled from this post in horror at the snuffing of spontaneity and creativity, you might appreciate some of the small pieces of wisdom presented, it could be worth a read couldn’t it?
I myself have drifted up and down the spectrum between plotting and pantsing and thought I had settled on a mix of the two but you should see the outline of my book now, I have got as far as writing the scene summaries, what will happen, what will be discovered, what will be foreshadowed and whose POV the scene will be in. In my naturally organised, obsessive, list writing manner, this is all colour coded and beautiful of course.
You can find the resource on The Guardian’s website HERE and I hope you find it as useful as I have.