Monday, September 26, 2016

outlining and research guest post by Dionne Witt

There are lots of ways to start a book. Some people just sit down and begin writing, with little more than an idea and a computer. Others will outline, research, and sketch until they have as many pages as a manuscript and they haven't written one word of the actual book yet.
I fall somewhere in between that. I'm often asked if I'm am outliner or a pantser, and the answer is both. When I get an idea, I immediately jot it down so I don't lose it. Then when I have more time, I begin to plot out my story. What's the main conflict? How will it be resolved? Will there be any romance? Fight scenes?
Getting my beginning and ending is the easy part. It's the middle that's tricky. I'll start with a bare bones outline, introducing my characters, the setting, the timeframe. Then I'll throw in the main scenes that I know I want included, the conflict, and the aha moments if there are any. I'll map it out on paper so I have some kind of guidance. After I have a basic outline, I start my research. I create character sketches so I know who my people are. Hair color, eye color, height, build, likes and dislikes. I'll scour the internet, (Pinterest and IMDB mainly) for character descriptions and characteristics, and I'll save pictures for inspiration. For my setting, I have to decide if it's real or fictional. Either way, I have to be able to describe it. What do the houses look like? Is it a big city? Small town? Isolated country setting? What's the weather like?
While doing this research though, I have to be careful not to fall down the "research rabbit hole." It's easy to start looking at one thing and spiral off into different topics. Then you come to find out that eight hours have passed and you've missed lunch and dinner and your kid's graduation.
But once I start writing, I try to follow my outline, using the research that I've done. And yet, I know that sometimes (all the time!) the characters will have minds of their own and veer off onto a completely different path. And that's perfectly okay. Then I become somewhat of a pantser at that point, winging it for a bit until I figure out what I want to do next.
One thing I've learned about writing is that you must be flexible. When I find my path again, I go back to my outline and adjust. This may lead to more research, and that's okay too.
The key is to never stop, until the story is done.

About the Author
Dionne Witt is an avid reader and writer. When not chasing after her very inquisitive first grader, or attempting to do a Pinterest project, she writes Young Adult and Adult Contemporary Romance. She enjoys all things nerd, Chinese food, and has recently discovered coffee. (Website) (Facebook page) (Amazon page)

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