Remember, every writer/author works differently and at a different pace. There is no right or wrong when it comes to outlining. This is my way.
In my opinion, outlining is extremely important. When I start any book projects, the first thing I do is brainstorm. I write down enough relevant details, but not too detailed, for me to understand what my story is going to be about.
Brainstorm for the new edition to Made in Thailand.
Now, here’s my favourite part. Aside from having a brief idea to how I want the story to go, I also enjoy creating the characters and giving them names. I give my characters the names that suits them. Are they a Kaiser? A Blair? An Amanda? I need to be able to feel that their names suits them. Even when I am out and about and a name pops into my head, I will get out my little brown book which I carry around with me and write it down.
Now it’s time to outline the actual story. At this point, you should have a clear idea as to how your story is going to work and know what to outline along the process. If not, then I suggest for you to go back to brainstorming. If you try and move beyond this point, you are likely to get writer’s block. My mind works quickly. Once I have an idea for a book, I already know how I want the story to go, including the ending. But I still outline each chapter in moderate details to help guide me in case I need to look back on it.
I am always more excited about the ending of the story than the beginning, because knowing how the story will end motivates and gives me the urge to want to tell it.
However, there are times when I find outlining the middle of the story challenging as I try to figure out how to make my story get to the ending that I want. If I really struggle, then I stop, relax, just like how I would if I were to experience writer’s block, and then go back to it later. I always pull through in the end. I never outline a chapter and then draft it as I find the process time consuming. It’s not a bad thing. Every writer/author has their own way. At the end of the day, I could outline the entire book before writing it, but I choose to do it until the middle, because the story itself is fresh in my head, and they are desperate to come out. I don’t spend too long outlining either.
With my very first book, I had all these ideas and plots in my head. I knew exactly how the story was going to go from beginning to end. I had planned it all in my head. I was so confident that I told myself I didn’t need to outline. So I went straight to writing the story. Back then, I didn’t know the importance of outlining. I was still new to writing and publishing. And then it happened, right in the middle of the story. I became stuck. I didn’t know how to go on. I was frustrated, because I had already written so much, and the ending was still in my head, but I didn’t know how to get there. My ideas and plots were over the place. I felt lost and confused. That was when I decided to start from the beginning and try to work out the storyline from there. It was then that I knew I had to start writing down pointers for each chapter to keep me on track. And that is how I learned about the importance of outlining. With that first book, it took me nearly two weeks to sort out the mess and the outlines.