Preptober #1: A Lazy Writer’s Guide to an Outline

I am a dreadful outliner. I barely plan my blog posts (I’ve gotten better, but sometimes my topics are spur of the moment). But I am trying to get better at my writing, at my blogging, and consequently, better at my outlining.

So let’s work together to create a lazy writer’s outline. Or more of a plantser’s outline. Not quite pantsing the whole thing and not quite plotting the whole thing. Maybe this will be a good start for you fellow pantsers to get a few rules of your own story down. Or maybe those plotters reading might find something new to add to their system.

That’s the point of most of the outlines out there. There isn’t an one size fits all sort of situation. It might not even work for every novel you write. Take what I say, take what hundreds of other authors say, and create what works for you.

Man writing provided by Helloquence

Arching Plots

The first thing in my lazy outline is figuring out the arching plots. These are the main storylines of your novel. The cause and effect of why your story is happening.

Put down the main reason why things are happening: the inciting incident (what makes the hero have to do the thing), the conflict (plus a possible twist), and the resolve.

You can have multiple arching plots. You can have the main conflict and then a romantic element with a conflict.

This is what you’re writing toward. This is the stuff that’s happening. This is the novel. If you stop right here with your plotting, at least you know what the point of your story is.

Characters

Write down your characters. Even if you do nothing else to plot, write down your characters and what their basic features are. That way you don’t have to stop and question did MC have blue or green eyes??? You also know how many you have and if you’re pantsing the rest, you know who you can pull into a scene without having to create more side characters you don’t know anything about.

Step-by-step

This is the down and dirty lazy way. Just start by making chapter title heads and then write one or two sentences about what it’s going to happen. I like to also include which characters will be involved because that also helps me clear out unneeded characters, add new ones before starting, or really understand character dynamics before writing. Just make sure you hit all the points in your arching plotlines.

Super simple, and without a lot of steps or information. The perfect outline for a pantser!

Let me know what kind of methods you do or if any of this helps you this year. Look out for three more preptober posts from me, and good luck writing!

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