I mentioned in my previous blog post, that I have a very specific form of outlining my work. If you’d be so kind as to indulge me (and really, this is my blog so you can’t do shit about it!) I’d like to share my process with you.
I’m going to start out by saying that my chapters usually average 5000 words, so when I outline, I usually only have 15-20 chapters. There’s ALWAYS wiggle room, however, and sometimes I get really good ideas in the middle of the writing process, which is why I really like this version of outlining, because it is very organic, natural and free flowing, easy to find points that might need to be changed later and is very easy to organize.
I usually do this all on paper, in a binder, but note cards work too, if you need that sort of visual. Let’s write a 10 chapter outline for a pretend story about a dragon who falls in love with the wizard sent to kill him.
TITLE: The Dragon who Loved Her (Note: man, that is a crappy title, I usually change them after)
WORD COUNT GOAL: 50,000 (Note: Way too low of a word count, but for these purposes, it’s good enough.)
One: [chapter title goes here, if I want one. I don’t always have one.] The biggest dragon ever razes a village. The villagers beg and offer gifts to make him go away. The dragon takes the gifts and flies off, fully intending to milk this for all it’s worth.
Two: “City Council” – The citizens are mad, scared, dying etc. They hold a meeting to determine what to do and they all agree that they need a wizard to help.
Three: “Not the Wizard You’d Expect” – the day of the wizard’s arrival approaches. A big feast and party is planned. Things go great and the wizard arrives, with plenty of theatrics. Reveal the wizard is a woman. The town is outraged, the wizard is sarcastic, offers to summon the dragon instead. Town relents.
Four: “Day of the Dragon” – the dragon is due to arrive. The wizard sits calmly in the middle of the town to “see what happens”. The dragon shows up and is all violent and bad ass and the wizard scolds him. The dragon is embarrassed and flies away. The town cheers but the wizard says it isn’t over yet.
Five: “Emasculated” – the dragon returns to his lair and is confused. He talks to himself and generally throws a tantrum. He’s never seen a thing as beautiful as the wizard-woman. He plots to kidnap her for himself.
Six: “Best Laid Plans” – the down wants to go to ‘war’ with the dragon, they want him dead. The wizard says no, but helps build a defense for the town, just in case something happens.
Seven: “Beauty and the Beast” – the dragon return in a surprise attack. He is smarter than they had given him credit for and while the ‘defense’ the wizard had helped set up would have worked, the town wasn’t ready for an attack. The wizard shows up to fight off the dragon, but is injured. The dragon kidnaps her and flies away.
Eight: “Lair of the Beast” – the wizard is hurt badly. The dragon offers to care for her. He brings her anything and everything that she needs and she begins healing herself. There’s a lot of character development and stuff here, they get to know one another and that sappy song from Beauty and the Beast plays (Tale as old as tiiiiimmmmeee… true as it can be! Barely even friends, then somebody bends. UNEXPECTEDLYYYYYYYY!) (Note, I make these notes as silly, sarcastic and motivating as possible because I’m insane and also, I need JUST AS MUCH MOTIVATION AS ANYONE ELSE DOES.)
Nine: “Scar Tissue” – the wizard is almost healed up, she’s kind of fallen in love with the dragon. She finally asks why he’s such a jerkface. He’s lonely, apparently, and also kind of evil. She’s upset ’cause she’s falling for the bad boy. The dragon is sad ’cause he knows they can’t be together. Wizard offers a spell, Dragon agrees but has to go and get the ingredients. Wizard promises to stay put.
Ten: “The good end happily…” – the dragon goes to get the ingredients but the villagers are pissed and they’ve gone on the war path. They see/find the dragon and they shoot his ass down. The wizard is worried when he doesn’t return and she heads out to find him. She finds him at the village, trussed up and badly wounded. Desperate bid to save his life, scold the villagers, wizardly wrath. She does a spell, saves him, makes him a shapeshifter of some sort and they live happily. Kind of. Make a moral. Keep it happy-ish at the end. (Or kill the village, see how you feel.)
So yeah, that’s basically how I do it. It keeps things light, flexible, all that stuff.
If you like it, use it, or at least give it a try. I’d love to her from you if you do!
Good luck and I hope you get the word count you’re looking for!