Outlining

Outlining can be a useful tool, but only if done properly. Of course, what constitutes proper outlining is subject to the occasion. There are some who prefer not to bother with any planning at all, but it’s worth trying at least once, and so I’ll highlight a few methods I’ve come across here.

Method #1: Streamlining

This is the most straightforward (if also the most time-consuming) method, and the one I tend to use if I have an outline at all. But, it can also save a lot of trouble while actually writing the story, if done thoroughly enough. This is basically the process of thinking the story through in order from beginning to end, noting all the major events that play out as you go. Name people and places as they come up (though it’s sometimes helpful to make a separate character list as well) and describe them as thoroughly as possible. The biggest flaw is that of coming up with new plot or subplot twists as you go along or after you’ve finished. That’s why it’s best to go over these outlines several times, adding new points by squeezing them in the margins or via asterisks and daggers if necessary.

Method #2: Spotting

This is better when you’ve got an assortment of related ideas, but don’t know exactly how to arrange them yet. Just write them all down, then come back and number them when you’ve got a firmer idea of where things go. And, as before, add in new ideas as necessary. As an alternative, some people write each event on a separate notecard (with all accompanying details) and arrange them later.

These are the best ways I know of, and the only ones I have actually tested for myself. There is a third method that I haven’t tried, though it may work for you:

Method #3: Matching

This is perhaps the least cohesive of the bunch, at least in the initial stage. However, it can potentially be great for folks who have a truly random scattering of ideas, and no other way of organizing them. It involves making several lists: one of characters, one of settings, and one of events. Select at least one item from each list (more than one from the character pile, if necessary), then build a story (or at least a scene) around that. You can even add a fourth category involving time, if you so desire, but either way this one is probably best done on notecards or the like. It sounds a bit chaotic for me, and if used for a book-length work, could potentially entail writing a number of scenes out of order. But, for those to whom randomness is not a problem (or for single-author anthologies), it might just work superbly!

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas?

Divine inspiration? Dannebrog Falling from the Sky During the Battle of Lyndanisse, June 15, 1219. Painted by Christian August Lorentzen in 1809. Original located at Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark

This is a question common to artists of every kind, and the answer tends to be universal: Anywhere!

Continue reading “Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas?”

Pre-Order Sale on E-Books!

Good day all! As those of you who’ve been watching closely may know, my debut novel, Sauragia, has been going on sale for pre-order in various venues over this past week or so. To celebrate the occasion, I’m offering 25% off from today until October 23rd on e-book editions from most of my distributors! This means that on several websites where it’s currently available for pre-order, you can now get it for $2.99 instead of the normal list price of $3.99. For more info on the book and its current distribution, click here.

N.B.-This offer will not apply to orders from Amazon at this time.

For purchases from Barnes & Noble, you’ll need the following coupon code: BNPSAURAGIA25

For those of you with a XinXii Store account, use the following code between now and August 22nd to get a copy FREE: XXSAURAGIA100

The Novel Writing Process from Outline to Print

Writing can be a daunting task for anyone from a student doing a research essay to a professional historian writing a detailed biography. It undoubtedly takes a lot of patience, diligence, and hard work to come up with a piece that’s even passable, much less masterful. But while being an author is a task that one could rarely label as easy, there are certainly ways to go about it that can significantly reduce the stress.Continue reading “The Novel Writing Process from Outline to Print”

Introducing J.S.A. Books!

Greetings fellow authors and avid readers alike! My name is J. S. Allen. I am an author based out of Kansas City, MO. My interests cover a broad spectrum of subjects, though my specialty is novel-length sci-fi/fantasy (particularly that involving anthropomorphic animals). In nonfiction, I tend to stick to ancient and military history, as well as an occasional scientific article. My only previous publications consist of five pieces in the 2015 and 2016 editions of the MCC Longview periodical Shorelines, as well as other small pieces for various online venues since.Continue reading “Introducing J.S.A. Books!”