Likely the most successful author type, Planners know exactly how to get to the finish line of their stories—every time.
Being a Planner simply means that you create a solid, complete outline before you start writing your story. If you do all the hard work of planning before you begin, the writing itself is so much easier!
Although the details of outlining go beyond the scope of this blog post, there are a couple of popular outlining methods I’d like to mention.
One of the most popular ways to outlining a story or novel is the index-card method. You write a brief summary of each individual scene out on 3x5 cards, and then organize those scenes into chronological order, creating a cohesive plot. Some writers like to tape these index cards up on a wall so that they can see them displayed in order. Other writers use apps like Scrivener to create virtual index cards the same way. And still others just rubber-band the whole stack of cards together in order, and go through them one by one.
The fun thing about using index cards is you don’t have to write the scenes in order. You can start by writing down whatever cool scenes you’ve already envisioned without bothering about which scene goes where. Once you have a pile of scene cards, then the fun part of organizing them into a logical plot line begins—and your novel really starts taking shape!
If index cards aren’t really your style, you might try the more traditional approach of writing a synopsis. Write a one-paragraph summary of what you think your story will be about, almost like what you would read on the back of a novel in the bookstore. Expand that paragraph into a full-page synopsis by developing each sentence into a paragraph, fleshing the details out a little more. One you have a full-page synopsis, you have a story skeleton that can be developed as much as you like. Start fleshing out each paragraph into scenes, chapters, acts. Write out character sheets for each character in the story.
The Main Takeaway
The outline is your guide, not your master. There will come a point in the story when your instincts want to take over and change the direction of the story. Follow your gut. Don’t be afraid of wandering a little off the outline … it might turn out to be the perfect twist your story needs. And most of all, have fun!
As a Planner, you may find my plot outlining sheets helpful as you sketch out your story. I've created a set of printable plot outlining sheets and added them to my free eBook, which you can download here. These will help you jumpstart your outline and get an edge on your plotting process!