Planning Your Write: Do It Right
So there you are again. You have this incredible idea trying to claw its way out of the recesses of your mind. It creeps into your daydreams; it fills your nightly dreams with its lush imagery, finely crafted details, witty dialogue, and superb storyline. Your setting is spectacular, and in your bones, you know this will be nothing short of a chart topper on the New York Times Bestseller List. This legendary tale will become your magnum opus, your David Copperfield, your Frankenstein!
Planning your write
You sit at your desk, pencils sharpened, cup of coffee in hand. Your mind races at the possibilities of this story, while you align your gleaming white paper one last time. Pencil poised, you touch the pin-sharp point to the paper, and then…nothing. You can’t decide how to begin, where to start, and question why you ever chose to write. Does this scenario seem too familiar? For most of us, it is. In our haste to get the story out there, we sometimes overlook a critical step in the writing process—the dreaded outline.
I’ll admit it. I hate the thought of (essentially) writing something twice. If it were up to me, every word, detail, character and plotline would automatically appear, as though a genie has granted me all the talent and skill available in this universe and any other to boot. Sadly, I haven’t found any lamps in the sand recently, so until I happen to stub my big toe on that genie’s lamp, I’m left with the good, ol’ fashioned outline.
For one thing, they’re extremely handy for organizing your plot and prevent you from forgetting scenes essential to your story. We’ve all suddenly remembered something essential to our pieces, and madly scramble to salvage as much as we’re able to, without massive rewrites. Most of you allowed that to happen…once. Me? Let’s just say that I stubbornly denied needing an outline and only proved to myself just how badly I did need to make one every time.
As I have matured, both chronologically and as a writer, I have less time to dilly-dally around. I don’t want to go back and re-write scenes for completeness anymore. In fact, not only do I now make an outline, I create graphic organizers for my characters and settings. It is so much more enjoyable to spend an extra few minutes submersed in creating a character’s personality, than to have to re-read what I’ve previously written to make sure what a character thinks, does, or says makes sense.
The key to great graphic organizing
Your graphic organizers don’t need to be extravagantly written. They don’t need to be a rough draft. However, you should use easily remembered key phrases and ideas to help you create cohesion and flow. Look at it like this: your outline is the “foundation” of a skyscraper. It is the rigid, immovable skeletal backbone of your creation. Your scenes, events, and episodes create the “steel girder” framework. Finally, your characters, details and natural writing ability provide the “building’s” façade—the masonry, brickwork, windows, drywall, and furnishings that complete your piece.
So go ahead, take that extra bit of time to prepare yourself to write. Make the time to organize your thoughts into the logical, amazing story you have to share with the world. You’ll be glad that you did.