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That changes right now.
Generally, when I first get a book idea I really like, I’ll let it sit in my head for a little while. Once it’s stewed for a bit, and I’ve decided I still like the idea (usually determined by how much I end up thinking about it during said stewing period), I’ll pull up an Evernote note and start jotting down ideas. How detailed or vague this is depends on the book and what’s in my brain. I don’t really censor in this stage.
Once I have enough ideas to get a general sense of what I want the book to be about, I’ll put together a logline/one-sentence pitch or a book comp. This helps keep me focused while I’m outlining and writing the first draft, and it doesn’t usually take very long (for more info, check out my how to plot without plotting post). By the end of this process, I usually have a good idea of who the protagonist is, who the love interest is (or are), and who the antagonist is.
Next step is actually putting together an outline.
As I’ve mentioned before, I use Scrivener to put together my outlines, using the cork board feature. Initially, my first few flashcards are usually near the beginning of the book, starting with the the inciting incident. And from there…it’s pretty scattered. I jump around from beginning to end, adding things in between, filling in whatever gaps I think of, changing plot points when I think of something better, etc. I ask myself “What if?” questions frequently, try to make the stakes as personal and big as I can, and when I think I’ve put my characters through a lot, I put them through more. I make the lows lower and the highs higher, I add conflict everywhere I can, and if I see opportunities for some twists, I take them. This process continues until I've got a fully fleshed-out plot from beginning to end.
Generally, I don’t go into huge detail with the plot points I figure out. Each flashcard usually will have somewhere between a sentence to a paragraph describing what will generally happen in the scene, and that’s it. How many flashcards I have at the end depends on the book, but I’ll usually end up somewhere between 30-50, and from there I can guesstimate how long I expect the book to be and get ready to start drafting.
And that’s it!
If you’re a plotter, what does your outlining process look like?
Struggling to find a plotting process that works for you? Writer @Ava_Jae shares her method for loose outlining. (Click to tweet)
Brainstorming, book comps & Scrivener are all a part of @Ava_Jae's plotting process. What's involved in yours? (Click to tweet)