Tag Archives: writing books

Must Have Writing Tools for Story Outlining

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Tools and Templates for Your Story Outline

As a writer, I am a planner. I am a huge fan of outlining a story or book and find the process extremely enjoyable.

Brainstorming

Planning your book with a story outline is a great way to break it down into small writing goals, each with a focused idea.

What I love about brainstorming an outline: I can think up an idea, break it down into major scenes, and get an overall feel for the story I’m wanting to write. I can follow a general story arch and make sure that my major scenes are occurring where they need to. It’s a fun exercise that allows me to see the whole story idea come together before a word of it is actually written.


Tools

Scrivener is the number one tool writers use to write their books. It has great options for storyboarding/outlining. It formats your book for uploading to your publisher. Go check out everything this program has to offer. Honestly, if you don’t have Scrivener, I strongly suggest you make the investment. Below is my affiliate link.

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)

If you have Scrivener, another great tool you may want to try is Scapple. Scapple is an easy-to-use tool for getting ideas down as quickly as possible and making connections between them. It isn’t exactly mind-mapping software—it’s more like a freeform text editor that allows you to make notes anywhere on the page and to connect them using straight dotted lines or arrows. If you’ve ever scribbled down ideas all over a piece of paper and drawn lines between related thoughts, then you already know what Scapple does. Plus, you can drag your notes right into Scrivener.


What’s Great About Outlining

  • Outlining breaks down your story idea into small enough segments that you can write about them in one sitting.
  • You can focus on one scene at a time and know where the story is heading so you can really dive into the scene with confidence.
  • You can add details concerning character development to the story arc. I actually add to my outline, about a paragraph on what’s going on in each scene, or what needs to happen, and what’s changing or coming to light with the characters.
  • You can set a milestone goal for each scene and reward yourself each time you’ve finished one. Rewarding yourself along the way will make you more apt to continue with a writing routine.

Books

Here are some great books I recommend if you’re looking to learn more about outlining.

41rtj4w2zzl-_sy346_ Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

by K.M. Weiland

 

 


Templates

For those of you who are wanting to get started right away, here are some templates that you can post up as references to help you as you work through your outline. Although there are several different plot themes you could use and many different methods of outlining, in these templates you’ll find a basic outlining method that works well for most works of fiction. However, I highly recommend reading one or more of the books above before you begin.

*Right-click on the template to save to your computer and print. Images should print as 8.5 x 11 inch or you can choose your own printing options if you’d like them smaller.

Step One: Some basics to consider before you start your outline.

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Step Two: Some pre-outline questions that will help you get started.

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Step Three: A layout of a basic story structure for reference.

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Step Four: A story outline template with the story structure highlighted where it should appear within the story arc.

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For an eye-catching book cover design

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Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

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Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Challenge

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a storyteller so this should be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. Maybe you could start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites. Or share your response to the writing challenge in the comments section below.
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writer’s prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments:-)

I look forward to reading your writing.

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits).

Have Fun!

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

images (3)Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a story-teller so this should be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. Maybe you could start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites.
  • If you want, when you’re done, Check which famous writer you write like with a statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers. Just paste your completed work at  I Write Like – You will be given a badge that says which famous author you write like and you can paste the html into the end of your Wednesday Visual Writers Prompt, if you like, to show us all your badge! AWESOME!
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writers prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments 🙂

I look forward to reading your writing.

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits).

Have Fun!

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Untitled-6 copyWednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a story-teller so this should be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. Maybe you could start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites.
  • If you want, when you’re done, Check which famous writer you write like with a statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers. Just paste your completed work at  I Write Like – You will be given a badge that says which famous author you write like and you can paste the html into the end of your Wednesday Visual Writers Prompt, if you like, to show us all your badge! AWESOME
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writers prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments 🙂

I look forward to reading your writing.

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits).

Have Fun!

Why You Should Be Writing Short Stories

If you’re a writer, you’re most likely writing for the shear love of it.

You’ve spent countless hours honing your skill and developing your stories.

The drawback to being a writer is the amount of time it takes to write your rough draft, complete your rounds of edits, and then set to work on publishing.

It can take years to complete a worthy story. Many stories never make it to the finish line. As a writer, you are left unfulfilled for horribly long amounts of time. This can be frustrating not to mention emotionally distressing.

The good news is that there is a solution to your troubles. You can take all of those brilliant ideas that invade your mind while you’re trying to focus on your main story, and map them out. You can write short stories and develop those great ideas as side projects.

Untitled-10Why Short Stories

  • Today’s readers want shorter reads.
  • They satisfy an immediate need for the reader
  • They are a quick fix for a frustrated author
  • You can offer your short stories in exchange for email subscriptions
  • You can promote your upcoming novel with a free copy of your short story
  • The more books you have published, the more books you sell
  • Your short story will become a part of your body of work
  • Short fiction contests can build your bio
  • Your network will enjoy seeing that you’re a writer who has new stories to share with them often

How to Begin 

Brainstorm: Take the time once a month and do a brainstorming session. Write down all of your story ideas on small pieces of paper, fold them up and put them in a container, fish one out and you have your idea. Or, you can take the story idea that most resonates with you and move on to the next step.

Map out your short story: Get ready to make a list. This is the fun part. Now you get to map out your story and you’ll be surprised how quickly the ideas come for something you know will be only 5,000 to 30,000 words. Don’t worry a ton about the logistics, your first draft will be crap anyway. But not to worry, by the time you get to your last round of edits, you’ll have a great short to share with your readers or to sell to an audience that’s eating them up.

Not sure how to set up your map, I’ll show you:

The Map

  • List the beginning, middle, and end of your story in three acts. Here is your main story idea, a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Write down your idea and think about how you’re going to hook your reader with the beginning. Who is your protagonist, what are they doing, what are they going to be confronted with, how is this going to trip them up.

In the middle everything is a learning experience, this is where your character learns all of their lessons. Leave them nearly defeated.

In the third act your protagonist is ready to really go for their goal. Here is where they will end up, after a few minor successes, facing down their antagonist, win or lose.

  • After you’ve decided what your main story arch is, you can move on to the arch of each act. Divide each act into chapters. Typically it’s best to go with the same arch so splitting your acts into three chapters works well. You want to keep  the story flowing within your chapters and entice your reader to continue on to the following chapter. So here it’s not so much about a beginning, middle and end. You do, however, want to follow an arch that builds excitement and the need to know more.
  • Take each chapter and split it up into three scenes and repeat the above process, writing down the arch of the chapters. Keep the momentum going.

There you go, easy peasy, you have outlined your short story and have a compelling map to guide your writing process.

 

Ultimately, it pays to write short stories. You can use short story writing to explore different genres that you might not try otherwise. Your shorts can attract an assortment of new people to your network that may not have found you beforehand, this can lead to some really great feedback on your weekly posts. It’s acceptable to jump genres as an author within the short story realm. Writing in several different genres gives you the freedom to sharpen your skills as a writer by diversifying your writing.

I like the idea of trying your voice in different genres, it strengthens your creativity and provides a platform for you to have fun with your writing. I suggest writing at least one short story to see if it’s something that might appeal to you. You might decide you enjoy the process so much that it becomes a part of your regular writing habit.

What are your opinions about short stories, would you ever try writing one?


book-wall-1151406_960_720Check out:

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Good Short Story

9 Ways Writing Short Stories Can Pay Off for Writers