Where the Real Writing Begins: Editing and Outlining

Hey everyone. Another wonderful week has come to a close, and I’m in the midst of seeking out supervisors and a job! The last step I have to take before sending off my LPC-I application is finding a supervisor who will oversee my work as I accrue 3,000 client hours. That’s a lot of work ahead of me, as you might imagine, but most LPC-I’s complete their hours requirement within 3 years. More than anything, I’m eager to begin helping people effect positive changes in their lives – racking up those hours is only a secondary benefit.

just-being-there

In the meantime, I’m turning my attention to editing and outlining for the month of February. I recently read a fantastic article by K.M Weiland, titled “7 Steps to Creating a Flexible Outline for Any Story,” on the Writer’s Digest website. In it, the author explains the myriad reasons why outlining can be such a polarizing topic among writers. She also offers several steps you and I can take to help ensure a smooth and helpful outlining process with our own works.

I’ll be honest, I seldom outline before writing, although I had a bullet point outline written out before I started my second novel, Summer Complex. I’m what editor Paula Munier and Stephen King would call a pantser; I mostly work on the fly with numerous ideas in my head and find my flow in the spontaneous act. However, I’m now giving more credence to the outline as I prepare to edit my very first book, In the Words of Your Love.

So what does outlining look for me? I begin with what Weiland suggests in that aforementioned article, which is to sketch out rough drafts of all the main plot points. For my first book, it looks something like this:

  • Ross, a high school track runner, is dumped by his girlfriend Ana
  • Ross discovers that his teammate is now seeing Ana after months of trying to be with her
  • Ross nearly explodes before meeting Malerie Knighten, a razor sharp but compassionate artist
  • In order to find peace, Ross agrees to join Malerie in creating a new yearbook project
  • Ross and Malerie begin to interview students – both single and couples – in order to find out what makes a high school romance work
  • Ross learns that Mal has been recently diagnosed with leukemia
  • Ross discovers that Mal was in an abusive relationship with her last ex-
  • Ross and his teammates go on to win the Regionals Championship
  • Ross finds it in himself to forgive Leroy and Ana
  • Ross visits Malerie one last time as she begins her treatment at a Fort Worth hospital

The flow is (hopefully) coherent, smooth, and to the point. I think I’m starting to get the hang of this!

My next step is to interview each of my main characters in order to flesh out their lives and their roles. I am most excited to do this for my main character Ross, who is a kind but somewhat needy and self-absorbed high schooler (shocker, right?). Even though his initial big conflict justifies his resentment and conceit, I want to breathe more empathy and change into him. My goal: to make him a more relatable character, especially before he meets Malerie and agrees to help her with her yearbook project.

pantser-or-plotter

That’s all for tonight, fellow writers. What about you? Are you a pantser, a plotter, or a mix of the two? Comment below and let me know!

 

 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jed Herne says:

    I started as a pantser, writing my entire first draft with no forward planning. For my second draft, which ending up being an entire re-write, I planned out the whole thing and my story was far more coherant as a result. I still thing that pantsing has it’s merits when you want to ‘discover’ a story but I’ll definintly use outlining in all future works, just because it reduces a lot of stress. Great article!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rmcalzada says:

      I’m glad I’m in good company with you, Jed!

      I also seem to ascribe well to the second draft outlining process. But the first draft will always be my spontaneous playground of character arcs and major plot points. Plus, it’s like you say: Being pansters allows us to really discover our story in vivo!

      Liked by 1 person

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