I don’t know about any of you, but one of the things that I’m most terrible at is organization. I can’t organize things in my head to save my life, and I have to write it down somewhere to get it all in order. Some of my more complicated plots require a very dedicated and colour-coded outline so that I can keep track of what’s supposed to be happening. I tend to accidentally forget subplot points and leave them out.
I need an outline. Some lucky people don’t need one, because they’re just that clever. I am not one of those people, so that’s why I’m talking about it in this post.
I tend to colour code things like plot, sub-plots, and character arcs. There’s always an over-arching plot of things that are happening, some of which the characters might not even be aware of. Then I tie in sub-plots to the main plot, because sub-plots that don’t support your main theme aren’t very strong sub-plots. Then I add in character arcs, so that I can tell when a character needs to do something in order for the story to progress.
For me, plot is usually the hardest thing to actually do, because it needs to incorporate everything you want to include in the story. This is more from an organization point of view, because I usually know what needs to happen, it’s just a question of when.
Once the plot is laid down, then I can overlay it with the sub-plot and character arcs.
I find it a very tiring process, to be honest, and it’s usually what takes me the most time. Even research doesn’t take as long as that. Also, I tend to enjoy researching, which makes it less tedious than forcing myself to sit down and make charts and such.
Some people can just sit down and write. One of my teachers calls it the “gardening vs architecture” style of writing. “Gardening” is supposed to be just letting things grow in your head, whereas “architecture” is my style, in which the writer makes a plan. My professor also told us that there was no set way of writing, and that either style could work just fine, depending on the writer.
I suppose, for those of us that have a very chaotic way of organizing things, an outline works best.