Fiction Friday: How I’m Writing My Latest Novel Using an Outline

Measure of Devotion is the first book that I’ve written using any type of outline. I don’t like outlines. They’re boring. They make writing sound entirely too much like work. They suck.

Except they don’t.

I was tricked into outlining Measure of Devotion. I came across the Snowflake Method because it was referenced in a blog post and I thought it might really help me out. I discovered it coming out of NaNoWriMo which was such a mess (which you can read about here). So I was really looking for a different way to go about writing to avoid the nightmare that was November. Enter the Snowflake Method.

What is it?

Well for starters, go read about it. It’s actually a way to write your story in what I call layers. Each layer you add a little more. You start with a one sentence description, then a paragraph, then take the paragraph and expand it into separate paragraphs and so on. You also do character outlines and synopses. Then one of the last steps is outlining the scenes it will take to write your story. By the time I got to the outlining step though, the story was so firmly in my mind that it was easy to do.

How do you do it?

I use Scrivener as my writing software. I highly recommend it and they have a free trial so you should check it out. Without it I would have been lost trying to write this novel. I actually took the Snowflake Method and wrote out the steps and saved it as a template sheet in Scrivener. I edited the existing character sheet to incorporate the Snowflake Method and saved it. Then when it came time to write I used a split screen in Scrivener to bring up the Snowflake Method template and a document I called “snowflake” and I wrote out all the steps as I did them on this document. Any steps that involved character sheets I used my saved character template to fill in the information. For the outlining portion I used the cork board feature in Scrivener and made out a card for each scene and arranged them into chapter folders. Then when I went to write the note card with the scene description was right there in the upper right hand corner.

Has it helped?

Immensely. Writing this novel has gone far smoother than my previous attempts. The only hiccups I find are when I didn’t outline thoroughly enough. For instance if I said for one of my scenes “protag and love interest get to know each other” then I hit a brick wall. I really should have cut that down more into individual scenes but I was too impatient to actually start writing. Don’t laugh, we all learn as we go :). In my next novel I will definitely spend more time on the outlining portion. The parts that were outlined well have just flowed, the others not so much. I am seeing how I could have saved myself time in the long run by being more vigilant in my outlining.

So do you guys outline when you write? What other methods are there that you use when writing? Or are you a pantser? Let me know!

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  2. Just goes to show you how much people’s working methods can differ. I love Scrivener because it’s the first program that’s really let me get organized, but in my own way. Snowflake? I took a look at it and hated the whole concept.

    • There are so many different ways to write a novel. The people who can just sit down with a blank page and write from page one all the way through to the end blow my mind. I have a story that I’m trying to write that way but I think it’s just going to turn into a mess.

      I like outlining now because it allows me to jump around and write different sections, which is my natural inclination, without having to worry about all the pieces fitting together because I already know they will.

  3. Thanks for this post. I hadn’t heard of the snowflake method before. I will have to read more about it!

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