Every time July rolls in, as part of Camp NaNoWriMo, most writers decide to either take up new projects or take their current works one step further. I was the writer who was going to start anew with an old story idea. After spending two years daydreaming about it and an entire year of attempting to draft it but getting lost along the way, I decided to make a fresh start and try the plotting method. As a pantser, this was going to be a huge change for me but I knew the epic fantasy I want to tell will need an extensive outline to guide me. So I excitedly made notes to prepare myself for the goal I would be setting for this month of July: write a detailed outline for #KaliYugWIP —a Hindu eschatology based dark adult fantasy set in ancient northwestern India.
That is exactly when I realised what my attention-deficit brain needed: a way to track this outlining process. Drafting is an easy step to track. All you need, for the most part, is a daily word count goal. But for those who can’t function at their peak without measuring their progress, the process of outlining becomes a hazy vision of success and failure—nothing to move me ahead or pull me back; I was stuck, once again.
So I decided to list major headings for what requires my most attention while outlining. For example, world building is one of the most important aspects for me. Building a world inspired by ancient India, particularly the northwestern region, needs time, historical relevancy, and a better understanding because cultural differences existed in all directions of the olden territory, and still exist in present day India. Now that I knew this was one of the many headings I need to work on, I began breaking it down into subtopics that allowed me to dive deeper into this fictional world. And what better way to seek something than asking things. Soon, I had a list of questions: what the political rules were in this world, what ideologies thrived here, how influential religion would be, how the royalty made sure to hold power, what divided and what united the people, etc.
This has certainly made it easier for me to visualise progress. While I understand not everything can be thought out before writing the story, especially since the later drafts actually strengthen the little things way more, this method still gives me something of a plan to follow. Once I’ll have such questions under this and other headings answered, I’ll be finishing the broad outline of events and proceed towards a more detailed one that involves fleshed out chapters.
Will all of this work? I don’t know! Will I be stuck again, lose inspiration, or be constrained by other commitments in my life? I hope not. If you’re a writer too, let’s chat in the comments: are you a pantser or a plotter; and how do you track your outlining process? 🌼
8 replies on “Writing Log 01 — Wondering How to Track Progress While Outlining”
Hi Fanna! Honestly that feeling is so relatable. I’m also outlining (and a little brainstorming) simultaneously for my fantasy novel. I’m definitely a plotter, and for the first time I’ll try and use the 3 Act Story Structure in this WIP.
i’ve created a full draft outline for this july, however i feel like it won’t be enough. reading over your post here, i seem to have left out worldbuilding! (honestly, idk why i did that seeing as it’s something i love). so i’ll definitely need to go back over what i’ve done and add more into it. (so, thank you 😂)
this is my first time outlining, so it’s no wonder i forgot something important.
i hope your writing is going well, and i hope you achieve your word goals!
Interesting post! I guess I fall somewhere between a pantser and a plotter and I guess many people will! Some things do require much planning or lists, especially if it is long book with some complicated plot, while it is also nice sometimes to have spontaneity and just start writing first thoughts that come into your head.
good luck this month!!
I have always been a pantser until I started studying how to plot fiction. It was Story Engineering by Larry Brooks that really encouraged me to have a plan.
But I still find that plotting slows me down, despite the fact that I do plot and outline my stories and novels before I write them.
I no longer write fantasy, but I wish I understood story structure before I started writing fantasy, because now that I understand it, I kind of want to go back to writing fantasy.
Each a scene that I complete in my draft, I type COMPLETE in bold letters, and write a little note reminding myself.
I’m a hardcore planner lol! Ahhh, I’m so excited about your WIP though, it sounds and looks amazing already! Good luck with everything and if you ever wanna chat, I’m here ❤
Ah wow your outlining progress is… impressive ahah, I don’t have the patience to do a really detailed outline when I’m starting a first draft, though I do like to know what happens in the 3 major acts. Then again, I never tried writing a book with such a detailed, complex world building either! Wishing you all the best of luck with your writing! 🙂
i’m a hardcore plotter, so this post was super helpful for me! i don’t really have any specific method, except for quickly jotting down ideas that come to me, and putting everything in a story arc hahaha 😅