Chapter Outlining, Your Thoughts?


I’ve never really done outlining of any sort before. Originally it was because when I tried to do it I lost all interest in the story and stopped. Now, I don’t outline because I’m afraid of it. A lot of my ideas never come into my head in their full form. I have an idea for something, start it up, and go with it.
Lately I’ve been having problems though and am trying to do the whole outline thing, at least to the extent that I know the general direction of the story. But outlining is not nearly as easy as I thought. Basically this is what is going on:
A long while ago I started a strange SF horror story called “The White”. The title is only temporary, in fact I’m thinking of the changing it to “The Lies of Venicia”, since that has more to do with what is going on anyway. Well, I put the story aside, unfinished, a long time ago for some reason or another and just came back to it and realized how much I really liked the idea (a human colony in another star system that has been turned into a backwater because of the violent reaction of a mysterious alien entity known as the White). So I sat down and tried to think of what i could do with ti. I didn’t want to write another novel from the perspective of one person. Part of this is because I think in the case of this story one POV would really make all the horror and psychological issues feel old. I didn’t want that. So I added a second POV taken from someone in a place that, more or less, is not really involved in the second plotline, not directly at least. Same planet, different city. Things were going okay, rather swiftly. Then suddenly, I wanted another POV. It popped into my head that I have two people from opposite spectrums living on the same planet, but I didn’t have someone from the other spectrum–off planet.
But I have a dilemma here. Outlining is proving…difficult. I’m not sure where to go with the story and when I write something down, I realize, I don’t like the way that is going and just write something else other than what the outline intended.
So, what do you guys do when it comes to outlining? I want to hear your thoughts!

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

6 thoughts on “Chapter Outlining, Your Thoughts?

  1. Okay – here’s the thing:

    I really don’t have a clue.

    I am such an organic, ADD’ed writer that outlining is a pain in my side. I hear that some people have some success with writing all the scenes they have in their head on notecards and then writing scenes to connect those after they’ve put them in some order that makes sense, is fun, whatever.

    I think your 3rd POV could be The White! How much fun that could be! And then you can give those chapters or scenes out like candy bars to the readers. Yum. ^_^

    And as far as the title goes, I was jazzin’ along with “The White.” White conveys, you know, innocence or “good guy” imagery. Clashing concepts. Good stuff. But I also like “The Lies of Venicia”. Hmmm–

    Sorry, sort of off topic.

    A lot of authors recommend the notecard process. I’m trying it – sort of. 😉 With some success – sort of. LOL!

  2. The problem with using the White as a POV is that they aren’t intelligent. They have no real sentience, they’re simply like parasites spreading an infection, at least, that’s how it is in the beginning. Things do change a bit as the story progresses, but they still remain relatively brainless.

    I thought about doing the notecard thing, I’ll think about doing that again…

  3. I hate outlining but I’ve learned that if I’m writing a longer piece I can’t live without it. I’m a big picture person and the problem is that I lose track of the details. Outlining helps me with that.

    But I know writers who don’t use them at all. I’ve read that Stephen King is a sit-in-front-of-the-keyboard-and-knock-out-a-story type.

  4. What sort of stuff do you write SQT? I know you’ve talked about your writing before, but never in much detail. I’m very curious. I just started that site for writers, and I’m always interested in finding new people to possible work with, so it interests me.

  5. Strange coincidence, I just taught a little bit about outlining paragraphs to my students. Unfortunately, I taught them about it for academic essays mostly because they’re not native speakers.

    I honestly have never tried outlining my writing. However, I usually do make little notes everywhere about little things that I might want to put into a story. I suppose you could try the screenwriting method of storyboards.

  6. I don’t know how well screenboarding would work for me. The problem with getting that specific is that the story grows stale or I decide I really don’t like the direction of things.
    If you happen back and see this, mind explaining in brief what you told your students for outlining? I’d be curious how you portrayed that to non-native speakers.

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