How do you outline your work?

heller-outline-catch22.jpg

This image shows the outline Joseph Heller made for Catch-22, which has an incredible circular plot that really increases the meaning of the book. The structure itself can be considered one of the characters almost.

I tend to write without much of an outline of guide but I do let the characters play in my mind for a while before committing them to paper. I find this lets them jump out in my mind as far as who they are, what they sound like, and what their hiccups are. As I write, I use sticky notes like a madman to make internal plots and subplots and backstories and the like. I will show you some of them.

jenny-becomes-muaythai

This little sticky note stack is the kind of thing that I will quickly scribble to keep some sense of backstory. A lot of times, these backstories won’t make it into my draft, but I still think it’s incredibly useful to give me a sense of who the character is and how she got there. For example, supermodels don’t just become pirates. So it helps to have her history of depression and violence as a kind of catalyst. Then when I’m telling scenes about Jenny being abused in Pattaya sex clubs it makes a kind of natural emotional connection that leads her into her more aggressive Rani of Hanguk / Whorrior position. In smutpunk, characters also take larger than life stances but that has to be set-up with some kind of somewhat believable backstory. I mean, you want the story to be fantastic and phantasmagoric (or phantasmagooic) but you want the readers to get it once they’ve suspended their disbelief.

So how do you organize your stuff?

1 Comment

  1. Stickies are badass! I use spiral notepads and old school stickies when developing, the kind I can stick to walls, mirrors, the headboard of my bed (gives me dreamies). I spread them out to create scenes in different places, and so that they remind me of the bigger picture in a single glance (and why I love writing). That way, when my computer is being a bastard (which is kinda always right now) I can still let my Nasty-Ones go to work on me (I’m just a scribe/conduit, they tell me their stories).

    Like

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