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? 🌼