This is part one of a series about different writing methods. I will share different approaches you can try to unlock your creativity. This week I will talk about outlining versus pantsing.
Creativity is a fickle thing. What works for one person doesn’t work for another. Many times, each project uses a different method. Experimenting is the best way to figure out what will work best for you and each of your projects.
This is the best-known writing method. When most people think of outlines they remember the detailed, paragraph-by-paragraph plan we had to turn in for research papers in school. The truth is, outlining can be as comprehensive or as sparse as you want it to be.
Some writers describe every scene in detail from the beginning through the end in a scene list. Others put these scene descriptions into a table that tracks the point of view, characters, timeline, and word count for each scene. Still, others fill out all the major plot points in a beat sheet, while some know only the beginning and end before they start writing.
For an example of a beat sheet, read Save the Cat or Save the Cat Writes a Novel. You can also use any number of beat sheets available online. A beat is a plot point. There are various methods and numbers of beats you could choose to plan. Some beat sheets calculate the approximate page number where something should happen depending on the target word count of the project.
Shop around and see if you can find a beat sheet or outlining method that might work for you.
So far, I have mentioned outlining methods that focus on planning out the plot. Some writers sketch out their characters in addition to, or instead of outlining plots. There are many techniques for building characters.
As an avid reader of romance, I have read numerous novels where the hero and heroine fall in love for no reason. It simply serves the plot. This is not what we want as readers. We want characters that fall in love because they are meant for each other. They have to be perfectly matched and have complementary traits. For most writers, this is hard to achieve. However, the solution to this problem is simple.
Character Creation is Key
If you don’t spend time getting to know your characters before you start writing, it is a lot harder to achieve the kind of relationship readers want. Writing before you know your characters requires a lot of editing to get their relationship to where it needs to be.
Trying to fit characters to a plot has the same hindering effect. The choices characters make in a given situation are because of their personalities. It is a lot harder to fit a character’s personality to actions instead of figuring out what a character would do based on who they are.
Build One Character at a Time
By focusing on one character at a time, you are better able to [Read More]
There are two main parts to every story: internal and external conflict. These are also known as character and plot, respectively.
One of the age-old debates in the literary world is which is more important to the story. Neuroscience has answered this question with fMRI technology. According to Lisa Cron’s book, “Story Genius,” the character’s journey is more important. Why?
It’s how our brains process the story. On page 109 of “Story Genius,” Cron writes, “Cognitive psychologist and novelist Keith Oatley… defines fiction as ‘a simulation that runs on the software of our minds.” We use stories as a way to evaluate different social situations and how we would react to them. Basically, it allows us to experience the situation and reap the chemical rewards of navigating it successfully without ever being in the situation for ourselves.
Your character’s journey to change is what makes the story compelling to readers.
You need to relate to the character on some level. Our brains are wired to relate to the character, not the plot. If the character is not relatable, then the reader stops reading.
That begs the question: how can you create a relatable character and make the story compelling?