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Anyone else have issues keeping outlines concise? Every time i make an attempt to organize, things get more disorganized eventually.

This is really getting annoying...

i just want to get the jist of my story out.

But ometimes my "sub-ideas" seem really important. I always forget what kind of sub-ideas are bad because there are loads, and they seem necessary. But eventually my outline isnt objective anymore. Does anyone have any ideas to keep outlines pure and objective?


What issues writing outlines do you have if you have any?
It gets hard for me to plan out stories, I will agree. You have the burst of energy to create your idea to write about, and when you get to that paper (or typing it on computer) there's other ideas you just want to add in because creativity intervenes. In this case, I usually type what's on my mind and go with the flow. I'm a bit of a procrastinator, so if I interrupt myself with another idea, I compare the two and try to combine my original plan with the newly thought one. Imagination's powerful if you put your mind to it.

...Anyway, at first I thought you were asking for help, then at the end of your post, you asked if anyone's experienced a similar situation. I think I sort of combined an explanation of help and experience. sweatdrop Whoops.
TottWriter's avatar

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I've (mostly) sorted my outlining problems in recent years.

What I tend to do is work out the general concept of the story first, and write it into perhaps five or six bullet points marking the major plot points. So, for a hypothetical story, I might have:

Quote:
1 - introduce characters X, Y and Z
2 - introduce conflict: war has broken out.
3 - Z goes to war; Y follows in secret.
4 - X joins the enemy, Y and Z meet up and go to defeat X
5 - final confrontation, X is defeated but Y dies.


Obviously you can see that there are a lot of plot points which must happen between or at the five pointers I've mentioned, and which the pointers don't really explain. I would normally write up to a paragraph for each point, to explain the mood of each. So for 4, how does Z feel about Y having come along too? I'll note whether the meeting is a happy, relieved one, or a tense one with arguments. But it gives me a framework to stick to for step two, where I go back and fill in the gaps in more detail. This will last up to two or three pages, and I bullet point the smaller points along the way.

Alongside step one, I generally write a paragraph or so about the main characters, to give me a starting point for later. During step two I will usually decide on secondary characters I need to further the plot - few stories literally have only three people in them. Those which will have a recurring role I give a paragraph to, explaining their general motivations, and a basic description to avoid inconsistency. In older stories I had characters who changed hair colour or eye colour halfway through because I hadn't done that. And because I neglected a cast list in my current WIP, after a break away from it, one of my characters managed to change her name.

I also go into a bit more detail with my main cast at step two. I try and decide what makes each character tick and why - if a character is a doormat, what made them that way - are they a bit quiet, with pushy parents? Do they hate confrontation? Knowing these things helps prevent inconsistencies in how you write the character later, and prevents having to backtrack and change things because you've written the character in an illogical way. That's something I've learned from past mistakes. If you know why your characters do what they do, they'll almost run the story themselves, because you know what choice they'll make at every step along the way, and how they'll react. That makes outlining a lot easier, and a lot more fun if they are forced by circumstances to act out of character - for example, a shy character having knowledge no one else does, so they have to talk to people a lot. That sort of secondary conflict makes for a good sub-plot and a way for the character to develop. And if you write your outline in bullet points, it's easier to go back and add a point here and there if something comes along mid-draft.
I can't do outlines. I'm not sure, it just doesn't work for me. I normally just list my overall ideas on one page (hopefully in order) and just go from there.

Probably not much help to you ._.
Agnostica Mermaid
Anyone else have issues keeping outlines concise? Every time i make an attempt to organize, things get more disorganized eventually.

This is really getting annoying...

i just want to get the jist of my story out.

But ometimes my "sub-ideas" seem really important. I always forget what kind of sub-ideas are bad because there are loads, and they seem necessary. But eventually my outline isnt objective anymore. Does anyone have any ideas to keep outlines pure and objective?


What issues writing outlines do you have if you have any?


If you have trouble keeping things concise try it in dot point form. It should stop you from writing your outline as if it were the story itself.

Start with intro, motive, conflict, twist and resolution. No need for any other details. Then add single dot points of vital info to flesh out this structure. One dot point per event only.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boop's avatar

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Agnostica Mermaid
Anyone else have issues keeping outlines concise? Every time i make an attempt to organize, things get more disorganized eventually.

This is really getting annoying...

i just want to get the jist of my story out.

But ometimes my "sub-ideas" seem really important. I always forget what kind of sub-ideas are bad because there are loads, and they seem necessary. But eventually my outline isnt objective anymore. Does anyone have any ideas to keep outlines pure and objective?


What issues writing outlines do you have if you have any?


I've recently learned a very effective method of keeping my story plot organized;
Cue-cards!

I write major (or just notable) plot events on cue-cards, and then in another colour pen, i'll write out the details around each specified event~

It's very effective for me, so maybe you should give 'er a try!

emotion_yatta
Desi the fuzzy fluffhead's avatar

Tipsy Prophet

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boop


I've recently learned a very effective method of keeping my story plot organized;
Cue-cards!

I write major (or just notable) plot events on cue-cards, and then in another colour pen, i'll write out the details around each specified event~

It's very effective for me, so maybe you should give 'er a try!

emotion_yatta


I second this.
I don't really outline for writing, but when I start to edit the completed story I outline this way:

I love note cards, (or little slips of papers because I can't afford actual note cards.)
With the note cards you can write down the events on them, and then on the back you can put whatever you want, like Bibbidi suggested.
I like to color code my subplots so I can see how they're mixing together.

And the best thing about note cards/ slips of paper is that you can move them and see all the possible combinations.


My issue with outlining is probably that I just can't do it. I chose the end and flounder about until I get there and then I tighten, sharpen, and expand my plot in editing. I write mysteries, so it can work for any genre.

You've just got to figure out what works for you. My best advice would be to keep it short, and to the point.
In my experience, though I have very little experience with outlining, is that no matter what you're not going to get everything in an outline, no matter how detailed they are they're not fool proof, plot holes may still spring up, new, better ideas pop up that aren't included the ouline, that planned sub plot may actual drag the story down, a new character springs up, a character is forgotten and sometimes the whole outline just goes out the window by page five

I suggest keep your ending, as well as some main events in mind and then start writing.
Sevarren's avatar

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Thank you for creating this thread! Lol I'm a bit of a whirlwind when it comes to plotting stuff out and gettin organised, usually to the point where I lose all enthusiasm to the story at hand. Lol.

The cue cards sound like they could be very effective for me and the way I do things, thanks for the tips smile

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