Quick status update - even though I dropped out of BuNoWriMo because I didn't want the pressure of writing a novel in a month hanging over my head, as of today I'm 17K words into my new WIP. At this pace I will be done by the end of the month. Scary stuff.Describe your outline process for your book. What do you do to stay organized?
Yes, I skipped from #4 to #6. Somehow I got ahead in the prompts and this gets me back on track.
When I started writing, outlining wasn't on my radar. The thought didn't so much as cross my mind. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm glad about that. It helped me get started without bogging down my thoughts.
However, as a more seasoned writer (note this does not translate to 'published' or even close - darn queries), I find it impossible to write without one. Mostly because I have a million ideas and don't know until trying to outline whether or not one will even stretch out into a whole novel. That's where I start, with a very rough outline, with one or two sentences per chapter.
Once I've determined that it'll be a good length, I move on to character sketches. Note that before even starting an outline I've probably run through entire scenes in my head, dialogue and all, so I have an idea of what the characters look like. Finding pictures on the internet of actors/musicians/anyone else with a bevy of pictures from which to choose, I describe the character physically and historically, including any bad habits or tics (because what good character doesn't have a tic or two?), and insert the photo as a note in the margin (I use word). I find it much easier to write a character if I have a physical representation of her. Getting all of this out before writing is huge for me. That way it clears my mind and allows for better writing and world-building.
I learned this, by the way, from a tip I got while studying for my series 7. I made a cheat sheet, reproduced it by hand numerous times, and the minute I sat down in the testing cube, got it all out of the way first. That way my brain could focus on important stuff, not little things like formulas. Passed it on the first try. Yeah, I'm a nerd. That was some great advice though.
Next comes the outline. Sometimes I outline the whole thing, sometimes less. I generally don't start a novel though unless I know how it's going to end - not that it doesn't change on occasion. Sometimes the characters surprise me and do things not quite as planned. Anyway, once the outline is in good form, I insert it into the beginning of my word manuscript as a note, so it will put itself in the left margin and I can refer to it directly while I'm writing. Very handy. Again, the less I think about little things, the better my writing.
Note that none of this is set in stone, not the characters or the outline. I frequently amend, change, and add on as the story chugs along. Also, knowing what's coming allows me to plot out the chapter/scene ahead of time in my head, which works out well.
Off to insert 'voice' into my too-synopsy query. The fun never ends.