Outlining?  Me?

Yes.  And I’m here to tell you how to make your outline work for you.  I’ve blogged before about the outlines that I do.  (I plan to continue this process through many many books.  It’s extremely helpful, especially this next step.)

As a refresher, the first two posts are here and here.

Now, after I’ve created my lovely outline, in a process that takes a while, feels like rolling Sisyphus’ rock, and makes you want to tear out your hair, and proceeded to tear it to pieces, I have a nice messy slate to work off.

This is the next step in the process:

Post-it Flags will be your friends in this step of the process.  Here I have 6 colors to match the 6 highlighter colors from step 2.

These and your pen will become invaluable from here on.  They’re your best tools, aside from your imagination, at this point.

You can see in the photograph that there are a ton of post-its sticking out the side of my outline.  I’ll explain.

First off, you’re going to want to set aside a good hour or more for this part.  You’re not just sticking these flags on willy-nilly.  There’s a method to the madness.

Next, I recommend a good television program or movie playing in the background so that when your eyes are swimming in colored post-its you can avert them and allow them to re-calibrate.

All settled on the couch?  Great.  Here’s where you dig in and really make this baby start working for you.  You’re now going to go page by page and put a little post-it beside every highlighter mark you’ve made in the outline.  Does your page have four different colors marked on it?  Great.  One flag of each color.  You may have to continually reference your little color key you’ve inserted in the front of your outline, but you’ll get there eventually.  You’ll start to notice that certain colors appear more than others.  This will show you where you might have a weakness or writer’s tic.

In the end, you’ll end up with the right edge looking something like this, only more colorful.  (At the point in this process I took the photos, I’d already gone through many of the parts I’ll discuss tomorrow and Thursday.)

Now that’s over, it’s time to move on to the next part of this.  Which I’ll post about tomorrow since this is already going on long enough.