So, last night I had a dream and someone in it said that Chad Kroeger was the king of rock and Avril Lavine was the queen. And I was so outraged that I literally don’t remember anything else from the dream…
hey just a warning for xkit users on chrome, if you get the little red RESET warning, don’t click it. there is nothing wrong with it but upon resetting xkit will not be able to install anymore. the newest chrome update did something to the xkit guy’s coding or servers or something and he can’t quite figure out how to fix it, so don’t reset your xkit. i unfortunately learned this the hard way.
Writers are never short on ideas, but oftentimes we have trouble sorting them out and getting them down on the page. It can be daunting, especially when you have a complex concept or world that has to be built, but it’s useful to know that you’re not the only one facing this issue. As such, there have been many methods devised to help you better organize your story ideas and punch that first road block right in the face. One such is the outline.
First, if you don’t already know the structure of a story, I’d check this article out: Plotting Methods for Meticulous Plotters
There are a TON of ways to handle an outline, and everyone has their own methods. I don’t usually link the Daily Mail, but here’s an article they did showing some outlines belonging to famous authors to give you an idea of the variations. I’m going to be covering a more standard format in this section.
Outlines are useful for organizing the time line of events in your story as well as keeping track of multiple character arcs. You can be as detailed, or as brief, as you need to be with your outline, since you’re going to be using it as the skeleton for your story. Nothing you write for your outline is set in stone. Expect it to change because stories evolve as you build them. I recommend typing outlines for easy editing at a later point.
I normally set up outlines like this:
Character (Since I have more than one POV.)
Idea for how the chapter opens, what the focus character is doing.
Details, which will include a description of what happens next, how my character feels about the situation, maybe a line of dialogue I thought of, a piece of imagery I want to use, a question if this particular item is appropriate for the scene or better served elsewhere, a concept idea, a note about how this plot line may or may not work later, etc. It is always easier to move a story element in an outline than it is in the actual draft.
Continue listing what happens
Next, taking up as much space and as many bullet points as you need. Use a new bullet point when you have a new idea, or a new action or event. My outlines for chapters tend to be a page or more, as I’m very specific.
If you only have a general idea of what’s going in a section, or you’ve dug yourself into a plot hole that you can’t fix right now, make a note and come back to it later. You may find as you progress in your outline that you will come up with an acceptable answer to your stuck point working on a later chapter.
How the chapter ends. It should lead into the next chapter.
If you want to track character arcs, you can highlight or color-code your text for specific characters throughout the outline so you can see their progression through the overall narrative. I also tend to make note of how I want this character to change by the end of the book if necessary.
My outlines, when I actually do them, tend to go on for a while. The last time I did one the document was around 20 pages or so. This, of course, may be way too much detail for some of you, so feel free to slim down.
Bare Bones Outline:
Chapter 1 (Title, if applicable)
Main character bites into sandwich. The act of doing so transports him into a different realm.
He falls out of the sky and onto a funeral precession.
Disoriented, he is attacked by the precession’s guards while being shouted at by the mourners.
Our hero runs away, still having no clue what’s going on. He flees into the woods.
He ends up stumbling around, nearly crashing into trees, and eventually runs into what looks like a rock. However, the rock moves and turns to reveal it’s some sort of creature.
End chapter on main character staring at the angry, dripping maw of the beast.
This example shows you the main points of the chapter, the focus character, his possible conflict, and an end point that leads you right into the next chapter.
Bulleted lists work the best for me as far as formatting goes, but feel free to use standard numbers, arrows, or Roman numerals if that suits you best.
Some people like to use specific programs for outlining. I use OpenOffice (or Microsoft Office, but I’m cheap), though others exist:
- Microsoft One Note (usually comes with new Windows PCs).
- Omni Outliner (Mac OS).
- Free Mind (not a traditional outline and is instead a visual mapping tool).
- Redhaven Outline.
- Excel or Google Docs (for spreadsheets).
We were lied to. The women of my generation were told that we could ‘have it all’, as long as ‘it all’ was marriage, babies and a career in finance, a cupboard full of beautiful shoes and terminal exhaustion – and even that is only an option if we’re rich, white, straight and well behaved. These perfect lives would necessarily rely on an army of nannies and care-workers, and nobody has yet bothered to ask whether they can have it all.
We can have everything we want as long as what we want is a life spent searching for exhausting work that doesn’t pay enough, shopping for things we don’t need and sticking to a set of social and sexual rules that turn out, once you plough through the layers of trash and adverts, to be as rigid as ever.
As for young men, they were told they lived in a brave new world of economic and sexual opportunity, and if they felt angry or afraid, if they felt constrained or bewildered by contradictory expectations, by the pressure to act masculine, make money, demonstrate dominance and fuck a lot of pretty women while remaining a decent human being, then their distress was the fault of women and minorities. It was these grasping women, these homosexuals and people of colour who had taken away the power and satisfaction that was once their birthright as men. We were taught, all of us, that if we were dissatisfied, it was our fault, or the fault of those closest to us. We were built wrong, somehow. We had failed to adjust. If we showed any sort of distress, we probably needed to be medicated or incarcerated, depending on our social status. There are supposed to be no structural problems, just individual maladaption.