Reworking The Outline

I should be writing (should is the term to notice). Instead, I’m here, writing in a different way.

I’ve been stuck in the two drafts I’ve been working on. Both drats started flowing from my fingers in a flurry I could barely keep up with. Then they came to a screeching halt. I had nothing, not even a sentence to put to paper.

I tried all my usual tricks: jumping around, working on a different project, filling my creative well, etc. Nothing worked.

Then, I had an epiphany. One of my WIPs, currently titled Spookytown, is about 60% drafted, maybe a bit more. But, in the middle of the night, I got IT. The IT in question is the piece of the story that was missing and therefore I was stuck without it.

I sat down at my computer and realized I would need to rip apart my outline and piece it back together to accomodate this epiphany. Now, I’m a big advocate of flexible outlines. I like to discovery write — some of my best characters have popped into a story on their own accord — but this isn’t the addition of a new minor character or a scene I wasn’t planning on writing. This new piece completely changes the theme, the mood, the tone, the overall trajectory of the story. It’s a big change.

So, since I’m in for it anyway, I figured I would take you with me.

The Process

Everyone’s process is going to look a bit different, but through lots of trial and error, I’ve nailed mine down. Keep in mind while I’m working through this, that this is an in progress project. When I start NaNoWriMo in November, I’ll talk about what my process looks like from the beginning.

The Premise

This is a big change. The first thing I’m doing is writing down everything I know about my change. It’s magic related, so I’m writing down all the rules and connections this change makes to the world I’ve already built. I’m also jotting down anything related to my character arcs and how the change is impacting them.

Once the main ideas are down, it’s time to work it into my story.

The Pitch

During my prep work, I wrote the query letter, a synopsis (basically just the one sentence description of each of my scenes put together), and a one sentence pitch. Remember when I said this change impacts the entire project? Yeah, well now I get to start my revision at the beginning too.

Not all writers write the pitch and query before they write the story, but I’ve found (again through trial and error), that starting with these pieces helps me really narrow in on what my story is about and keeps me on track while I write.

So, I popped open my query and got to work. This step probably takes me the most time when I’m reworking a story. This story wasn’t any different. It took hours, but I tweaked it enough to be able to move on.

The Outline

Now that I’ve really nailed down where my changes are taking my story, it’s time to get down to the details.

I pull up my corkboard view in Scrivener and get to work. This step is always trickier for me when I’m fixing a plot as opposed to plotting from scratch. There’s more finesse and moving around. Mind you, when i did this for this project, I decided. tocut whole chapters, reduce the word count of the draft, moved a bunch of chapters around, and basically just created a mess for me to fix in revisions. Yay…

But it’s done.


The few hours of work that I just put into reworking my outline will make drafting the last bit of this novel so much easier. I have 30k left, and I’m ready to blow through the rest of this first draft (and another I have in the wings) so I can focus on NaNo prep and revision.

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