For anyone familiar with the MBTI profiling types, I think you'd all have guessed by now that I'm a xNTx type because of how detailed and systematic my technical blogs look like. This week, I bring you a 3 level outlining process that I designed for my novels.
Note: This is Aitsuji's working method so if you find it too stiff or lacking, feel free to copy the template and tweak away. I'll be including the link to my Outline Masterfile for Monarch of Solitude for anyone to reference at the end of the blog so stay tuned!
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Level 1: Overview
There are a few things I like to include in an overview but feel free to tweak.
#1: Table of Content
This is to track all my damned items and click to jump to the section I need.
The reason why this is needed in every master plot file is because, when writing a web novel that spans over 500 chapters, the ending in mind and direction of your story is important. Even if you stray from the path 300 chapters in, your lost sheep of a main character must reach the home goal as stated in the synopsis by the time your book ends.
From personal experience, having it in the file just makes it easier for me than opening a new tab to key in my own name to find it on my website or elsewhere or a description that may or may not be edited and updated. I do keep the old drafts somewhere in the folder too or in an archive folder for reference if I really do need it in future. My synopsis drafts can range from three to six per book that I write.
This is an expansion on the synopsis. When I write for web novel with the aim of getting a slavery contract (exclusive contract) I often create concept works that sell so I input all the elements of this work that I am required to follow.
Think of this as the rules of the book to follow by. It's also a little bit into world-building but not too much. Again, this is Aitsuji style so depending on the story you're writing, it might not be necassary.
#4: Back Story / World Setting
This is not the complete screenshot because I didn't want to spoil too much. However, this is a very brief guide to the important players of my story. I keep all the other details like my side characters and their quirks in a separate folder called Character Profile that you can view by clicking here.
Under the back story, you see a goals section. That section is for me to pace the arcs and seasons, giving me a rough estimate on how long the book might be. So far, Monarch of Solitude is 4 seasons long and about 400-600 chapters long. As of the blog writing date, I'm almost 200 chapters into the story and at the mid-point of the real plot development.
Doing this in the overview when I first started nearly 4 months back helped me to keep up with the pace and gives me a direction where I want to go in the following season after I completed the first.
Level 2: Skeleton
Once you finished the overview that should take you roughly a few hours if you're very decisive and quick about what you want, now it's time to blow this up into a doll with a fully functioning skeletal structure.
When I say this, I mean designing the seasons, main arcs, side arcs and pace it. You don't need to create characters and their names or traits now. No heavy research is required. What you need is a guide to summarise the entire story in the least exciting way that the most uninterested reader could understand.
Here's how mine looks like in Season 2:
Personally, I would give my main arcs anywhere from 20 to 50 chapters to develop and side arcs anywhere from 5 to 15 chapters to complete. With this number, I have an estimate figure how long the work is going to be.
Of course, this is measured using Aitsuji's standards. Different writers pace things differently. I'm a sucker for slow build-up, constantly growing tension, foreshadowing mountains and fast crisis bombs. Basically, I'm your horror movie story director but in a fantasy genre.
Level 3: Fleshing
I heard that humans were created using mud from someone before but I don't recall the religion that said it. Using this analogy, let's add mud to a wire structure of a story skeleton to bring it to life. This process is known as fleshing.
According to my writing experience, different writing styles will flesh differently. I'm very much a lawful planster. I'm a combination of structured goals and free expression, the epitome of insane half-genius.
Hence, I cannot tell you how to flesh your skeleton or where to start, it really depends on the kind of writer you are. However, if you're a lawful planster like me who does things by the half but still gets to the end, this is how I flesh mine.
Of course, this isn't the complete thing but you get the idea. I have an end goal to write towards but not the method. Personally, I live with a few life mottos. One of them happened to be:
"As long as there is a favourable result, the method doesn't matter."
You've stayed to the end of my shenanigans or skipped the whole darned thing. Either way, you deserve the right to view my secret-not-so-secret outline file so click on the button below to view it.
Side note, I don't know if I will be doing a live stream covering this topic so just hit subscribe on my Youtube Channel, you'll be the first to know if I do it.