So I’m an overthinker and my writing style for plotting/planning is sorta complicated, so bare with me as my feeble and very tired brain tries to explain it all to you.
I call it “The Skeleton”.
So, usually there’s three steps to outlining my story I take.
- Establish the theme that I’m going for. What lesson do I want to come forth within writing.
- The ending. I usually try to find a goal first and foremost before diving into the beginning and middle, because I feel having a goal to get to helps organize my thoughts.
- Establish character roles, what purpose they have to the story, and who my main character should be. This often details in factors of who they represent–they are intricately placed so that my main theme is represented through different perspectives. Like, for example, if I was writing a story that had a main theme about grief then each character would, essentially, represent each stage of grief.
From this, I begin the outline. I know what theme I’m going for, what tone, at least what the characters represent, and the end goal of where I’m heading. I detail out the end goal, usually this is very short, three or four paragraphs long of summary. Then I go into the exposition, try to figure out (via tone and theme) what sort of story I’m going for. Slow start, fast start, fast start slow middle, fast beginning fast middle, and slow end, etc. etc.
From that, I develop the overall plotpoints and storyline. I outline the plotpoints first (not chapter by chapter) which I call the skeleton. Usually at this point none of the characters have names.
From knowing what the plotpoints are, I place them accordingly, then go into the details about a subplot (usually romance) and place that onto a graph. From this, I put in the chapters that lead up to the different plotpoints, but I make sure that each chapter at least means something.
After that, I write the first draft.
After I write the first draft–which is usually sort of robotic looking considering i’ve not fleshed out any characters–I go into character details. I do this because if I humanize my characters too early on in the plotting of the story, I have a tendency to get too hyperfocused on them and what they represent, and often times drift away from the original goal. So, I find it’s a lot easier to have them as a basic cut-out figure of what I want throughout the story.
But after first draft is done, I flesh out every single character mentioned (other than characters like the grocery store boy that only appears once, lol). Because some of my characters are more important to the storyline, and because some of them only make appearances a couple times throughout the story, I will usually set a goal of a ten page back story for each character (sometimes extended in length because of importance), and then a basic list of their likes, dislikes, and apperance.
From this, I replot the story with my newly established characters. Some plotpoints, due to this, will be deleted, some will be revamped, and some will stay the same.
After, I rewrite, re-read to make sure that it’s all going accordingly, rewrite again, etc.