Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you like writing on a whim or do you like to plan every little detail? What if I say you can have your cake and eat it too?
I can’t tell you how many writer’s seminars, meetings, or online courses I’ve taken, all have one thing in common, they suggest using an outline. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of outlining your work. In fact, if you don’t take the time to outline in some fashion, your writing will not be succinct.
There is a different approach to outlining. This one tool I learned about a couple years ago at the Minnesota Christian Writer’s Guild. We invited author Erica Vetsch to speak on an author’s panel–the topic, outlining. She brought in her Story/Plot board. This board allows you to visually see what it is you’re writing.
As I began writing the outline for my new novel, I used the simple bullet outline to start. Each bullet point corresponded to a chapter or chapters. This gave me an idea of what I wanted for the book. I worked hard to know what the end was from the beginning.
In fact, I split my original idea into two different stories. Now, I have a sequel once this book comes out.
Without having an outline or knowing where you’re headed in the story, your book will fail.
So what is a plot board?
It’s a simple science project board broken up into 20-25 sections. Each of the 20 sections represents a chapter. Then underneath I have two sets of six boxes on either side of the board called Internal and External.
What do Internal and External mean?
The Internal are the inward emotions, thoughts, goals and conflicts that your character will feel throughout your story. The External are those same goals, motivations, and conflicts that are shown from an external perspective.
In our writing, we need to be continually asking what our characters are feeling and how they react to those feelings and situations.
This can also work for non-fiction books. The Internal is what goals, motivations and conflicts of interest you want the reader to feel. The External are those same goals, motivations and conflicts you want the reader to use to change their life.
In each of the 20 chapter squares, you can use post-it notes to write down what happens in each chapter or colored pencils and create a new board each book.
I like using Post-it notes as they’re colorful and fun to use. However, I’ve set-up my hand drawn board into Evernote and use that as a template. Now, wherever I go, I have my board with me and can write as ideas come to my mind.
Just like using Post-it Notes, I can use colored fonts to represent ideas or characters.
I encourage you to create some kind of outlining template you can use in writing your next book. A true pantser always goes into their writing project with some sort of plan. You can outline your book while giving yourself the freedom to write as the story sees fit.
If you want my Evernote template, I’ve created a special template you can download and add to your Evernote files. It’s free and it’s yours. Sign up below to get your free template.
Question: How do you plan out your books? Leave a comment by clicking here!
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