Here’s the thing for me:
I have a great idea for a story…but only to a small fraction.
I dont have any idea of a real conflict, secondary characters, the world building or any type of resolution in the story idea.
AND I KNOW (ಥ﹏ಥ) that if I just start writing this story with no planning…it will be another document taking up storage on my dusty trusty laptop, never to be opened ever again.
Does anyone else find it complicated to create an outline for a story?
Yes, I started that way with my current project. But once I started writing, things slowly began coming together. I got through the entire first draft before I realized that my book lacked any real plot, it was just character development, the entire thing. So, I had to start really thinking about what story I wanted to tell with these characters, building off of themes I’d already established with the characterization draft and finding ways to solidify those ideas into a more concrete direction. Now I know the basic plot I want to do so I can start a second draft that will be vastly different from the first draft, but much more structured.
That’s just my experience though, and admittedly, it was incredibly difficult to do all on my own. I had very few beta readers and even less of them gave helpful feedback, so I had to do most of the brainstorming by myself. I’d rather you didn’t have to go through that. So, if you’d like to bounce ideas off of me, I can act as a sounding board and help you get started with some plot/outline ideas.
I don’t really struggle with plot. I’ve got tons of tricks up my sleeve and can throw things at characters until they break. It will make a moderately decent story to just go nuts.
What I lack is motivation to do it. Why should I put the effort into this character?
And so I might as well claim it as the same struggle by outcome, but really, it’s an entirely different angle or issues.
Nope, since I started using plot beats, it was never a problem. For my latest story, I am using combination of both the Save the Cat plotbeats AND romance specific plotbeats to flesh out both the external and the romantic plot, and it’s just awesome!
Another thing is not to rush it, and let ideas accumulate for a while and keep coming back to the outline.
Wow! That is so much effort. I really admire how you kept going. I think I would have lost motivation mid second draft.
I know it’s horrible,but I have a terrible attention span. Or maybe just trying to do it all at once. I wish I was able to write a first draft then right after, a final draft. Kinda like how I do art, I’ll stay up for 18 hours straight to finish a painting in one go rather than pace the process. My art and writing would probably be so much better if I just started pacing.
Thank you so muc for offering to help, I will definitely take you up on that
Oooo! Plot beats. I’ve always wanted to try that method. I’m hoping I can find worksheets that will also help me in building a plot!
It’s the motivation for me too (ಥ﹏ಥ)
It’s part of why I do hesitate to call myself a writer, at all.
It’s like all these people who studied martial arts for years and here comes this dude who pioneers something like drunken kickboxing because they don’t want to attain perfection while sober.
There’s sometimes envy in that, and sometimes disgust. Lol
But it’s not a matter of insecurities, just that this stuff is only a facet of my life, not the whole of it.
Honestly, if you ask me how I outline, I’m not sure either. The method that works for me the most is asking questions and thinking about the story a lot.
Like if I start off with the world, like in my current story, I ask myself what character in the world would be interesting to follow. Then I ask how they are relevant to the current issue that I want to tackle. Then I ask what the event wise senario of the issue is. I go on circling outwards like that until I have a feel for most of the story, then look at plot structures to see how it fits.
It’s not always that the answers come easily. They don’t, but I make sure to ask the questions multiple times, trying to frame them in different ways to spark something so that eventually I can get to something. I also like taking walks and showering while outlining, because for some reason that seems to stimulate my creative brain quite a bit.
I can’t recommend Save the Cat, Writes a Novel enough. Romancing the Beat is a quick read and is not bad, but if you didn’t read Save the Cat, it is hard to understand why you even want Romancing the Beat at all, and what’s it all about. If you have the basics of the plot beats down, then Romancing the Beat is a great add-on for romance progression.
Another great book on digging for the novel from idea to the actual content is Lisa Cron’s Story Genius. While her actual method for building novel card by card is too inane for me, I like her approach to content creation. The why question, the dissecting what should be in, what shouldn’t and why, the deep think about relevant things to your character… that’s all golden. That idea of asking why and going from there is really good, because it sets out linkages.
@DomiSotto is sooooo right about Lisa Cron! And the example author she uses in her book is Jennie Nash, who’s now a book coach herself. Nash has some worksheets available for free on her website that might help you without even reading her book, and you don’t have to give her an email address or anything. They’re simply free pdfs you can download without any annoyance. If they don’t help you, at least you don’t lose anything. ¯\_(ﭢ)_/¯
I understand the feeling. With my art, I never used drafts. It’s always been a one and done deal for me. When I started writing, I thought it would be the same way, so when I finished my first draft and realized that it was not at all what I needed it to be, I kind of had this moment of realization that, yeah, everyone was right about first drafts always being terrible, and I wasn’t special. I wouldn’t be the one to make something perfect the first time around without ever practicing or developing my writing. It was a tough pill to swallow and I did get very discouraged and give up for a while, a little over a year actually.
But my story didn’t die in me and I kept getting ideas for it, so I came back to it. I’m working on the second draft now. So I guess, it’s ok to get discouraged and take a break for a while, but if you really want it, don’t give up. Just take some time to get a new perspective and then start tackling that next draft.
It’s also ok if the first draft is just you messing around with ideas and seeing where it leads you. That’s all my first draft was, and even though the writing itself didn’t acomplish a structured plot, it gave me all the ideas I needed to form one for the second draft. I played with a few different directions I could take and some of them didn’t pan out, but others did and opened the doorway to explore them further.
do you have a reference for romance-specific plot beats? I am having a hard time with that and I don’t prefer Save the Cat (nothing wrong with it, it’s just counterproductive to my creative process)
Yes, Romancing the Beat, it is a tiny book and just focuses on romantic story itself, vs external plot. It is really tiny, by Gwen Hayes. I just picked it up, read it overnight and used it to define romantic plot within the Save the Cat outline, detailing what my mains do romantically. Don’t expect anything groundbreaking, but for the price… basically, it’s this with a couple pages of discussion on each, no real book analyses or anything like Save the Cat does.
Romance Plot Beats:
No Way 1
Adhesion Plot Thrust 1
2. Falling in Love
No Way 2
Inkling that this could work
Maybe this Would Work
Midpoint of Love Plot Thrust
3. Retreating From Love
Inkling of Doubt
4. Fighting for Love
Dark Night of the Soul
What Whole Hearted Looks Like
oh wow thank you so so much!
Thank you!!! Im so glad I started reaching out again to fellow writers. It makes the process so less intimidating!
I can relate to you so much. I think we both are coming to the realization that we can not be to hard on ourselves.
my pleasure and have fun with it.
Exactly, so don’t take your first draft too seriously. It doesn’t have to be perfectly planned out. In fact, I’m pretty sure the whole point of a first draft is to figure things out. It’s the planning stage. Have fun with it!
Do I have a beginning and end point? Yes
Do I know what the story is supposed to be about? Pretty much
Do I have any idea how to get from that start to end point? None whatsoever