When it comes to story development and outlining your story, I feel it’s best to put self-awareness on the back burner for the time being. I know it’s crazy that I’m saying this since this is a series about using self-awareness as a writer. However, it’s just as important to know when not to use it as when it is.
Let’s talk about it!
Story Development – Creativity Unleashed
Once you have an idea that you feel is strong enough to develop into a longer story, it’s time to put everything on the table. Every idea, story beat, inciting incident, and plot twist should be up for grabs to get your idea out on the page so you can breathe life into it.
This means your characters should have free reign to do what they want, when they want, and how they want in pursuit of strong character arcs, relationships, and growth throughout the story. Don’t hold back, and don’t be afraid to have your antagonist do things that are off-the-rails crazy. Your goal is to create a compelling and interesting story at this stage. This version is for your eyes only, so have fun, and don’t let the inner critic throw up roadblocks that show down your creativity.
At this point, you’ll want to start crafting an outline that allows you to place your story and characters in some sort of coherent order. You want to work through the story from start to finish, giving yourself a rough roadmap of how your story will unfold and the characters will develop and change.
Now that you have a story outline, it’s time to review it and utilize self-awareness to strengthen your writing. This is a good point. Take a step back as the writer and look at your story outline as a reader.
What aspects of your story sound too familiar and could be altered to be different than what has been done before? What are the strong points of your story? Are there weak story points or characters that deserve another look? Are there parts of the story that could be cut that don’t impact the narrative? Do all the subplots tie into the main story somehow? Is your main character interesting? Are they actively involved in the story?
I like to complete an outline draft and then walk away, allowing my brain to reflect and subconsciously pick out parts that might need a second look. I jot down notes on my phone or paper as possible changes to strengthen the story outline.
It can be tempting to barrel through with a subpar outline, but that can lead to issues later in the drafting phase that can grind your progress to a halt. And while changes are inevitable, having a strong outline going into the rough draft phase can save you a lot of time and a lot of headaches down the road.
Once you’re ready to write, what aspects of being a self-aware writer are best to use during the rough draft phase and beyond? We’ll talk about it.
Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!