Outlining sucks. There, I said it. I mean, who wants to spend time outlining a book when there are so many great ideas and words that you JUST WANT TO GET STARTED ON!?!?!?! I sure as hell don’t.
But (yes, there it is…that ugly word), outlining is a fabulous tool. There are of course writers who are so fabulous they don’t even need to plot or outline. One writer friend of mine actually attempted plotting for the first time with her third novel and realized that she is just better at letting the story unfold as she’s writing it. But I think most of us need at least a basic plotting tool.
I firmly believe that at the very least, writers should do a character outline for their main and secondary characters. I actually do an outline for every character who has a meaningful scene. Even if the information is never put in any book–I should know their background. Knowing what their religion is, how many siblings they had, whether they’re a cat or dog person…these are all qualities that would effect how they speak and the dialogue and actions they have throughout the book. Below is an outline of the character sketch template I use for all my characters.
Character’s Full Name:
Style of dressing:
Distinguishing marks or features:
Do they have children?
Most Prized possession:
What is your character’s first impression on others?
How does your character need to grow/what does your character need to learn by the end of the story?
How will this happen?
Is this foreshadowed earlier in the story?