In the last two weeks I have taken a novel from the barest seed of an idea to full outline. That probably seems fast to some of you, and slow to others. For me, it’s on the fast side. Especially since this was a cold idea, one that I just selected from the brain queue at random and said yes, you, you’ll do and not one that I’ve been rolling around in my subconscious for a few years. Every writer has a few of those.
I needed a new story. The just finished manuscript is out with betas and awaiting feedback, and there’s not point in starting the sequel yet. But writers write, and I didn’t have anything immediately on deck.
So I made something.
I picked the first idea that came to me, and started in. I wanted to test some new planning methods, and so far they’ve worked.
The first came from Delilah S. Dawson, aka Lila Bowen, who wrote Servants of the Storm and Wake of Vultures respectively, both of which are awesome. She wrote a post on using music playlists for inspiration. You all know I love music, but while I often create playlists, they’re usually done after, not before.
But I had a go. I used Spotify, gathered 32 songs that sounded about right*. It took me about a day. Then I listened to it on repeat in my big ol’ over-the-ear headphones while I knocked out fast notes on the other stuff: main character, setting, inciting incident, etc. After two days, that gave me the bare bones of what was, by this point, starting to turn into something interesting.
But it lacked structure, and I know I need structure, so I trawled through my document files until I found this: a novel outliner template by Caroline Norrington for Scrivener that I downloaded back in the long ago and never tried. No time like the present.
If you’re already had a look at that template, be warned: it’s a monster. There’s shit in there that I don’t even know what to do with. But, importantly, it had big-ass lists of questions that needed to be asked and answered before this story moves on. I can’t always think of those questions on my own. And, thanks to this, I didn’t have to.
I filled in as much of this template as I wanted, which took about a week. And now I have a scene-by-scene outline, ready to go.
Will it go anywhere? Only time will tell. And, to be honestly, it’ll tell pretty quickly; I’m planning to start writing this soon. But I have never gotten from nothing to a solid outline this quickly.
Now I’m off to make a batch of brownies.
**flies away in a puff of coffee grounds**
*About write. Eh? Eh?