Implementing Outlining

The purpose behind a myth often lies in the need to explain a natural phenomenon. They, alternatively, can be a discussion of the origin of a certain god, demigod, or notable hero (but often include a reason for why the world is the way it is). Often, these stories are matter-of-fact, meaning that they are neither read nor told like a story, and can be seen as more similar to a historical textbook as opposed to something like a fairy tale. Ideally, I would be emulating this type of story-telling, but I want it to be more fantastic–these are not actual histories, so why should they read like one?

There is more to it, however, than just throwing out a few origin stories over the next week or so. I’ve always been a pantser–someone who flies by the seat of one’s pants while writing (I just learned this term two days ago)–and always thought I would be. Two or three semesters ago, however, I discovered the wonderful trick of outlining because a part of my grade was my outline. That was the best paper I ever turned in and it was incredibly easy to write. Since then, I’ve been convinced of the power of outlining without actually implementing it as often as I should. Out of this is born my next project: the research of outlining a novel.

Now, I’m not going to write a novel for each outlining method for the sake of this project, but there is going to be some experimenting involved. I’m assigning myself the task of creating mythology using three different styles of outlining that appealed to me the most, out of the following list I compiled during my research:

  • The “traditional” list.
    • This can also be referred to as “skeletal” or “structure-plus”
  • Synopsis or a “pure” summary
  • Flashlighting or signposting
  • A visual map or notecarding
  • Snowflake
  • Three-act structure
  • Hero’s Journey
  • Draft Zero
  • Software

I will describe in further detail the three outlining methods I choose in posts proceeding the short story I worked out with them.

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