If you follow me on Twitter (and it’s okay if you don’t) you’ve read my incessant tweets about outlining.

Many of you were impressed with the length of my outline when I finished the one I did for Oracles Promise.

I thought I’d go over my process a little today.

See, I am a pantser by nature.  When I start out on a book, I have a general idea of what will happen.  My outline tends to look something like this:

I. [Insert clever chapter title]
…..A. Character A goes here and the poop hits the fan
II. [Insert clever chapter title]

You get the idea.  It’s very fluid and 99% of the time, I end up going way off outline.  (Such as it is.)

In my attempt to save Oracles Promise I set about outlining it in great detail.  This outlining thing went a lot smoother having the completed story in front of me.

I broke it down thusly:

I. Chapter title
….A. Scene 1
………1. Setting
………….(a) Place name
………2. Characters
………….(a) Character name
………….(b) Character name
………3. Events
………….(a) Event #1
………….(b) Event #2

And continue ad nauseum until you hit the end of the manuscript.

Sometimes if the chapter was really long, I’d hit AA. and so on for the scene numbering layer.

This is a very tedious process, yes.  But in the end it’s well worth it.  I quite often (probably 50% of the time) found myself writing “Transitional fluff” for events.

When I completed the outline, I uploaded it to a printing service and had it printed and bound all spiffy for me.

Then I proceeded to tear the outline to shreds.

I had a pen and 6 highlighters, all different colors.  Each color represented a different category.  History that could be included elsewhere, character development to move elsewhere, event to move somewhere else, scene to think harder about, mythology to incorporate somewhere else, and something hinted at/foreshadowed that could be developed more.

The pen was for slashing out the scenes that could be cut.  And let me tell you that was a lot.  Basically anywhere I wrote “transitional,” “filler,” or “fluff” in lieu of listing events.

And sometimes not.  If there was a scene that served no other purpose than to drop one little hint about something, something that could just as easily be moved to another scene, the scene got cut and the moving element got highlighted.

In the end I think I lost about half the scenes I’d outlined.  That was one colorful and bruised outline.

And now I’m doing the same thing for Lodestar.  It’s a process, let me tell you.  But it’s going a lot faster for some reason.  I think it’s because I have more chapters and fewer words than I did in Oracles Promise.


I’d post a picture, but I mailed all of my materials for OP home to my mom for storage.  It was just too heavy on my heart to keep all that around.