Posts tagged Outlining
An Easy Outlining Method for Writers Who Don't Enjoy Planning

My personal journey as a writer has been a lonely and meandering one.

For as long as I can remember, a thousand fantastic worlds have lived in my head, the safe places I went when the real world was too painful or quiet to bear. About the time I began to understand myself as an individual, around eleven or twelve, I started writing down these worlds and the stories that took place in them. It was a carefully guarded secret, something that only happened when the mood struck.

As one might expect with such an organic and aimless writing practice, progress was slow. In retrospect, I realize that I was attempting to write about five stories under the guise of one. When I grew frustrated with the inconsistencies and difficulty in plot progression, I split this one story into three set at three different times within the same world, which, sadly, did nothing to clean up the confusion.

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How to Decide Which Exciting Story Idea to Write Next

Have a hundred thrilling story ideas rumbling around in your brain?

Choosing which of those many ideas to write next can seem impossible — especially when you’re of unsure which idea best aligns with your aims and abilities as a writer — but have no fear! Today, we're going to cut through option overwhelm by discussing the tips and tricks that can provide clarity as you decide which exciting story idea to write next.

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Finding the Novel Outlining Process that Works for You

There’s nothing more nebulous than trying to produce a decent outline for your novel.

With dozens of outlining methods to choose from, all of which seem to work well for some writers but not for others, defining the outlining process that works best for you and your stories can be more than a little intimidating. How much detail do you need to include? Is outlining really necessary? Isn't there a better way? 

Writers, it's time to cut through the chaos and get down to business. Let's find the outlining method that works best for each of us in today's breakdown!

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The Third Act: How to Write a Climactic Sequence

Writers, it’s time to go out with a bang!

Today, we're back with the third and final installment in our mini-series on the 3-Act Story Structure. Each article in this series builds upon the last, so make sure to check out the first two installments before diving in: 

All caught up? Fantastic!

Today, we’re diving into Act Three of the 3-Act Story Structure. Tension is thick. The final conflict between your protagonist and antagonist looms on the horizon. How can you ensure you write a finale that will blow readers away? Let’s get started with today’s breakdown!

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The Second Act: Is the Middle of Your Story Dragging?

Worried your book isn't exciting enough to maintain readers' interests?

Back in the day, I constantly struggled to write past the first few chapters of a manuscript. I knew who my protagonists were, what they wanted, and how their journeys would end, but how in the world did one fill in the gaps? I hadn't a clue, and because of that struggle, I set aside dozens of unfinished drafts, telling myself I just wasn't good enough to be a writer.

Fortunately, that all changed when I discovered the power of story structure—specifically, the 3-Act Story Structure!

The second act of this popular storytelling blueprint makes plotting the dreaded middle section of your book a breeze, or at least a heck of a lot easier than it was before. How so? Let's discuss just that in today's second installment of our three-part blog miniseries on the 3-Act Story Structure!

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The First Act: Nailing Your Novel's Opening Chapters

Ready to discover the power of story structure? 

Now, don't frown at me. 

I know story structure doesn't sound like the most exciting thing in the world. Well, not to everyone anyway. Personally, I'm kind of a structure freak, so I AM SUPER EXCITED FOR THIS BLOG SERIES.


Apologies. Got a little excited there. Back to business...

Over the next four weeks, we're going to break down the 3-Act Story Structure. But first, let's talk about why structure is so important. After all, one of the biggest complaints I hear about structure is that it's too rigid, that it makes stories sound old and recycled.

But that's not the case, not if structure is used well.

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My Outlining Process: How I Prepare to Draft My Novels

There’s no right way to outline your novel.

That’s something I quickly learned when I first joined the online writing community and something I later discussed in depth in our article on finding the outlining method that best works with your creative process. Outlines can be powerful drafting tools, you see, but we all have draft in different ways.

Today, I’m going to tell you a little about my own outlining and drafting processes so you have a better understanding of both what works for me and what may or may not work well for you. Sound like a plan? Let's jump in!

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Breaking Down The Hero's Journey Plot Structure

Writers, it's time to discuss one of my favorite storytelling topics: plot structure.

Today, in particular, we're going to break down a structure originally outlined by mythologist Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero With a Thousand FacesThe Hero's Journey is a classic plot structure that appears in many speculative fiction books, films, television shows, and other forms of media.

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How to Know if You Have a Story or a Topic (with guest writer Abria Mattina)

Sometimes the best lessons of our writing careers come from unexpected places.

Four years ago, I jetted off to New York to study publishing at NYU in a bid to make my English degree worth something. I expected to learn about business, not storytelling, but some of the best writing advice I ever received came from that course.

Every day, professionals from various roles in the publishing industry came to speak to the class. The goal was to teach us about how publishing worked and help us find our places within that industry, but it was also an amazing opportunity to learn about how stories come to life. No matter what aspect of the publishing world a person comes from, he or she is a career storyteller.

One of the best lessons I learned there came from a journalist specializing in long, in-depth articles (the kind of central stories you read in magazines like Time). He spoke about finding stories and pitching them to editors, hoping to get the green light. It's easy, he explained, to find something to write about. It's finding the angle -- the hinge point of an interesting story -- that's the hard part.

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Exploring The Four Benefits of Pre-Writing (with guest writer Kaitlin Hillerich)

Before you even sit down to type the first word of your novel, there’s some groundwork you need to do first.

You need to spend time developing your characters, world, plot, and doing lots (and lots) of research. This is known as the pre-writing stage, and it’s something we don’t talk about often enough as writers.

“But I don’t want to do more work!” you lament.

Shhhh. Just accept it now and it will make your life loads easier. Trust me. What I’ve discovered after several novels and years of writing is that the time you invest in your pre-writing stage will determine how smoothly the writing process goes. And you want it to go as smoothly as possible, right? (Hint: just say yes).

I feel like a lot of new writers think that you come up with some ideas and then just dive right into your story. I mean, sure, you could do it that way. But you’re just making things harder on yourself.

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Develop Your Story Idea in Eleven Simple Steps

You’ve the seed of a story idea stuck in your head, but it’s nowhere near ready to write. 

How does one go about expanding a simple story idea into a fully-developed novel? It depends! Some writers prefer to explore their ideas by diving straight into a discovery draft, getting to know their characters and plot as they write, while others find it beneficial to first outline their characters, scenes, settings, and more. 

The latter process, called pre-writing, certainly isn't easy. But if you believe a little plotting and planning may help you draft your next novel with confidence and clarity, have no fear. Today, we're walking through eleven simple steps you can take over the coming weeks to develop your story idea with purpose and power!

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3 Awesome Plot Structures For Building Bestsellers

Novels are just like houses.

Houses have rooms and residents. Novels have chapters and characters. Houses have curb appeal. Novels have pretty covers. Houses and novels both take a while to build, and the end results for both aren't worth much if they weren't built on a solid foundation.

And when it comes to novels, that solid foundation is a well-planned plot structure.

This may not seem like a big deal at first. Just let the story tell itself, right? That route may seem easy and natural, but it won't guarantee that your novel will be a success. Analyze a handful of bestselling books and you'll see that each one was built, brick-by-brick, on a foundation of the author's design.

So, how can you do the same? Well, I'm breaking down three bestselling plot structures and dishing out my top tips for utilizing them in your own work in today's post, so let's get started!

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