As a part of the What’s your Process Blogfest held by Shallee, which I am participating in, I chose to write about my writing process. Starting out as a pantser who had no idea of which direction her story would move in, I have moved on to being a die hard plotter.
Nowadays I plot every little detail of my novel. One thing I need to be very clear about is the ending. Because if writers have no idea of where they are going with a story, they will never know if they have reached their destination. A good ending is as important as a powerful beginning.
I am going to talk about how I outline my short stories and books before I start writing it. For the short stories (800 to 1000 words) that I pen for the newspapers, I do a one line outline: who is the protagonist, what is his/her conflict and how it’s resolved. This one line outline helps me get a feel of the entire story before I tackle it.
For the longer stories (2500 to 4500 words) that are used in anthologies, I do a one paragraph outline before I sit down to write the story. This one paragraph outline or the one paragraph synopsis has the following things: the protagonist, his/her or conflict or goal, the antagonist, or forces against the protagonist, what are the obstacles thrown in the protagonist’s way and how she plans to thwart or overcome them.
For the books my initial outline is quite long, maybe three to four pages ; the protagonist, their current status and what kind of a person he/she is ( headstrong, reliable, thinker, rash, calm, independent, sentimental ) and which aspect of their nature can get them out of tight spots and which trait of theirs can get them into trouble ( this in particular helps me when I am working on the conflict) the things that perpetually trouble them (another aspect that helps me in creating conflict), their aim in life, the antagonist or forces creating obstacles in their path, the antagonist’s strength and weakness, and how the protagonist jumps over the obstacles.
I start with who my protagonist is, what is her world and life, introduce few characters close to the protagonist. Then I add the incident that turns her world upside down; here the antagonist makes the entry and brings in a set of problems that the protagonist has to overcome. Characters on the antagonist’s side are introduced. They increase the tension and intensify the conflict. Characters on the protagonist’s side are also introduced. I write about how these people will assist the protagonist. Now the protagonist has to choose her path; decide what she/he wants to do. The plan is set into motion. A couple of paragraphs feature the twists and turns in the plot. And then comes the resolution. How things move in the protagonist’s path. This is what I call my Working Outline. Many people call it Pre - Writing The working outline undergoes several rewrites. With each rewrite I add few details and see the story more fleshed out.
It’s like I write the entire story (especially the main highlights) in an outline form. As this is not shared with anyone else, it more often than not can go the lengthy route. For my current WIP, just writing down that long outline took several days, but, it brought out the entire story in my mind. After this I start the First Draft.
I have shared my Writing Process. Hope it can be of help to someone. I am waiting to read everyone’s individual writing process.