27 August 2012

Chapter-by-chapter outlining

There's a lot of background work
for the collection!
I'm an outliner when it comes to writing. It helps me think about the story as a whole. And, in the case of the collection, it will help me think about the community of the people and their stories, and how everything fits together.

I already have a basic outline for the coffee house book, as well as synopses for the other books in the collection. Since I'm still doing all the background writing and research, what I have is fine for now.

However, as it gets closer to time to actually start writing the coffee house book, my intent is to take the outline a step further by creating detailed outlines for each individual chapter. I think I've mentioned before that the characters are the driving force in the books, and because of this, the simple outline I currently have for the coffee house book is adequate for background work, but is really a skeleton outline. I need to fill in the holes to be able to move forward.

Essentially, what I intend to do is sit down with the coffee house book outline, and write the chapter outlines as if each chapter stood independent of the rest of the chapters (and collection). When I have that done, I'll fit the chapters together within the larger work of the coffee house book (there is a loose story arc that ties the chapters together, after all), and think about how the coffee house book fits into the larger collection. When all those threads are put together, I'll have an extremely detailed outline for the coffee house book, and I'll be ready to start writing!

Not every story needs this kind of outlining. Many stories I've written don't. But because of how integrated everything is in the collection, I think it's necessary to do. Tedious, maybe. But necessary.

Do you outline before you write? How detailed are your outlines?

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