Setting the Frame

I am currently beginning a post-apocalyptic book, in which God dies and the world is thrown into chaos. I wrote the first three chapters, and I still think it’s the best thing I’ve ever come up with. To make sure I don’t mess it up, I decided not to move further without an outline.

Today, I learned something. I do not know how to outline.

Amazing that I got through college without ever outlining anything. Like my previous novels, I just worked up an idea in my head and ran with it. Essay? Research paper? Nothing a bit of improv can’t take care of. (Okay, so I never got an A on a research paper. The essays were good.)

Planning is not my thing. Yet, for this book, I want it.

So what now? Well, I could get Scrivener, but I’m cheap. I could get index cards and a bulletin board, but I am REALLY cheap. Right now I’m using Microsoft Word, splitting things up into tables. I don’t have any flowcharts yet, but using this to separate characters, settings, plot devices, and chapter flow is working pretty well so far.

What do you use for outlining your work? Do you outline your work? Should you? Comment, please. I’m curious.

6 thoughts on “Setting the Frame

  1. I normally make a large-scale rough outline in my head, and then do more detailed work as needed on pen and paper, using sticky notes in needed places where I run out of room. Occasionally I try more structured methods, but scribbling on paper and making a mess seems to work best for me.

    1. Yeah, I usually tend to avoid paper, as my handwriting is ridiculously slow and tedious. It might be time to break into that, though. It sounds like a good method.

      1. A keyboard is too sterile for my creative process. For me pens have always worked better.

    1. That’s what I’ve been doing for a while now. I really do like constantly pondering the plot, then sitting down and hammering out the next few thousand words. This book is a test, in a way, to see how an outline changes things.

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