Before I learned to love outlines and plans, my stories didn’t go very far. I have at least 20 started manuscripts – all just a few hundred words in. Sometimes I’d get stumped a few paragraphs into the story:
- who was my protagonist anyway?
- what did the environments look like?
- what was I even trying to get across with my tale?
But I was a determined pantser, and the only item I obsessed over were names.
I made lists of names, lists of lists and delighted in saying the names outloud (you know, when I was alone, indoors somewhere, only, of course). I researched them, too. The ones that I liked best often had beginnings in Celtic folklore or Old English. This obsession with names came very handy when I was creating fake cities on maps or when tasked with naming my newest RPG character, but didn’t serve me too well in creating believable characters, because the only thing I knew about them was a string of letters.
So months ago, I decided that this year would be different. I never finished any of my stories before, and the definition of insanity being “expecting different results from the same ol’ actions” was starting to really worm its way into my thoughts. If NOT outlining my stories led me nowhere, then outlining them must at least get me somewhere else, even if it it’s just with a giant encyclopedia of my new world, with no actual storyline to tell.
What materials do I need for outlining? I wondered. I read a bunch of articles online, perused How To Be A Writer books, and sat in silence, pondering.
What I came up with was this short list:
- a writing app – software, but do people even refer to them as such anymore? 😉
- a tri-fold cardboard – because I’ve never gotten over my love of Staples or September wishes of brand new school supplies
- sticky notes, of various colors and sizes – because if we don’t support 3M and all their spinoffs, who will?
- pens and markers – see above
- a vision – this is really the most important part!
To be continued…