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anonymous asked:

Do you use an outline when you write your fics? Ive only followed you for a month or so so sorry if you've already explained this in the past. You write so quickly that it seems to me either you are REALLY good at following/expanding on an outline or you're writing by the seat of your pants. I'm having trouble starting a fic, the beginning just isn't working the way I want. I don't know how to get from A to B, and I wanted advice from you since you can zip from plotpoint to plotpoint with ease.

Oh man this is a loaded question. (I live for this stuff.) 

Okay, I’ll do my best to help you out here, Anon. I don’t create outlines for everything I write, in all honesty. In fact, some of my works start out as impulsive pieces and gets spurred out of the moment because I have little to no control sometimes when I want to “ride on the wave of a new idea.”

I can even tell you through and through which works of mine do and don’t have outlines. You can probably tell with the writing and how they’re progressing. And yes I write very, very fast, but this is both a good and bad thing. Sometimes they come out too quickly and could easily use extra time to refocus and rehash certain plot points and details that need further emphasis. 

All of these works have had different processes in how they began. 

Honestly, when it comes to “writing by the seat of your pants” and “expanding on an outline,” a lot of the time it can become a mixture of both because of how the story plays out. 

You may realize that you want to actually take it in a different direction, or change the ending or dialogue, so you have to go back and make changes that suit the new steps you want to take. Sometimes the stories have a mind of their own. They can be rude like that.

I’ll share with you the creative backdrop processes for my more multichapter fics below.

  • My Hunter x Hunter fanfic, Wayward Souls, was borne from a very extensive outline after I wrote the first two paragraphs. I went off the handle with it, and changed the ending twice to accommodate the changes I wanted to make to the overall story. Now, it’s moving swimmingly, but the conclusion is always the hardest part.
  • My Hunter x Hunter fanfic series, The Afterschool Library Chronicle, has no outline whatsoever. That’s kind of why it’s split up into a series. I hadn’t intended for it go the direction it went, and as it comes towards its conclusion, I’m glad that it was written that way. Sometimes the story just flies off the handle itself and you have to somehow trust the process. 
  • My BNHA fanfic, Before Midnight, had a similar process to Wayward Souls. That one just kinda… fell together. The plot points became more prevalent to me after the third chapter. Then, I knew what I wanted for the story. The notes for that one are more scattered and I know the ending and the climax already, but the steps to get there have changed for the better. It also helps craft a decent mystery (not excellent, but decent).
  • My BNHA fanfic, Alexithymia, has been the least difficult story to outline because it’s relatively simple by comparison. There’s less worldbuilding, but still rules and customs I had to make up in order to do it. It’s similar to the canonical universe of the anime/manga with the already widely understood A/B/O Dynamics. I mostly wrote the first chapter out of spite because I normally hate that particular AU genre quite a bit.

In all honesty, Anon, it depends on what you enjoy writing to begin with. It’s better for me to use outlines in my works because my mind constantly strays and I need a mechanical structure to remind me of where I want to go, especially when one plot thread leads to another one much later. 

Outlines help me mostly because I almost only write pretty broad Alternate Universe stories with my own rules, including self-created magic systems, political systems, scenery, geography, history, and so forth. That’s just part of how I think as a writer. 

So, outlines work better for me to keep track of where the hell I’m going most of the time, especially with these broad, intense universes. 

It can help with consistency and planning, and so, I could recommend several approaches you could take for this process in outlining/beginning your work. 

For one thing, every story has its own pace. 

In this article, well-known author Marie Lu discusses the process between writing two completely different series and how she needed to change up her routine to basically mold her style and process to fit both of them. It’s definitely worth taking a look if you’re struggling with even beginning with your ideas.

Now, when you go back to your story, instead of focusing entirely on how to get from point A to point B, think about what your entire story is to begin with. Craft a graph, or an outline, or even a spreadsheet (all of them help) and visually write down what you want to happen for your story. 

Some keynotes I want to address here before you start this exercise. 

  1. Who is your protagonist? What is their goal? Their motivation? What obstacle are they intending to overcome?
  2. Who is the antagonist? Or what is the antagonistic force? Basically, what is stopping your protagonist from reaching their goal?
  3. What changes will your protagonist go through in your story, for what purpose and for what reason? Every solid story follows a protagonist going through some change and a “point of never return,” so to speak.
  4. What are the rules in your universe? Do these changes need to be thought out more before you start writing? 
  5. Where is your fic/story taking place? 
  6. What are the most prevalent themes and ideas behind your story?
  7. Why do you want to write this fic/story to begin with?
  8. What are the three high points and three low points of your story? (Approximately). These will determine the steps from your introduction, to your rising action, to your climax, to your falling action and then your conclusion. 

There are many, many articles you can turn to to help with this process. Even the most successful authors struggle with this exact thing. 

Also, Anon. Writing is hard. Honestly, it’s the hardest task, yet the most rewarding, depending on your effort and ability to be patient with your setbacks. I’ve spent years crafting outlines and meticulously plotting out points for original works that still haven’t seen the light of day because of either major plotholes I discovered or other mechanical factors that didn’t work. 

Whether you’re outlining or just writing impulsively, the story will move on its own. Patience is an absolute must, and the ability to take and process constructive criticism from both yourself and your peers. 

Start with looking at the overall work you have planned, and then go through to find out how you want to break up each scene and plot point into chapters. 

Again, maybe this process won’t work for you at all, but in order for me to take control of my stories and to write quickly, I needed to spend extra hours building an outline to work off of. 

Plans will change, though, and it may just be out of your control. 

Ultimately, have fun with the process. Writing is meant to be exhilarating, hard, rewarding, but fun. Enjoy it. Let your work speak for you and please you, first, as the writer and creator of this fabulous journey that many people will be so excited to step into when it’s finally released.

I wish you the best of luck, Anon! Thank you so much for the ask!

I cannot possibly emphasize what a constant trial it is being friends with me.

Need something to get you through Monday? Here’s a pic of an adorable clutch of baby peregrine falcons on banding day at Cabrillo National Monument in California. At birth, peregrine chicks weigh about 1.5 ounces, but they grow quickly – they can double their weight in just six days. They reach nearly full size after only seven weeks. Cool fact about peregrine falcons: They are among the fastest birds, flying at up to 55 mph and diving at more than 200 mph when striking avian prey in mid-air. Photo by National Park Service.