Plots, Sub-Plots and Outlines

Image provided by rore_d' &

Image provided by rore_d &

When I began writing seriously, I was a ‘by the seat of my pants’ kind of writer. I started with character and let the stories unfold as I wrote. When I wrote my first novel, I had a partial outline. Actually, I kind of outlined as I went, staying a few steps ahead of the writing. Overall, it made things easier and I learned a lot from the process.

Now that my attention has turned to a new novel, I’m using the outline in a different way. It’s a little unusual in that I have three separate outlines that will eventually be meshed together.

I have the main outline complete. This consists of the main characters, the opening scene, a pivotal setup complication, three pivotal complications, the worst complication possible, the worse than even the worst complications ever and the ending. With this outline I have the foundation of the novel. I know where I’m going and a general idea of how I’m going to get there. But as I found with my first novel, this isn’t enough.

There will be more happening in the story in the form of subplots. Two subplots to be exact. That means I need to complete outlines for these mini-stories and find a way to insert them into the main story. Not only will this help with word-count (I’m a sparse writer) it will add texture and flavor throughout.

I’m excited about this project and find it difficult to hold back. However, plunging in before the details are in place hasn’t caused problems in the past. It’s my hope that creating outlines for the main and sub-plots will improve my writing.

Do you work from an outline? What’s your routine like?