When it comes to writing, I am a huge believer in outlining. Outlining gives you more control and helps streamline the process for writing, editing, and publishing your story. While I’ve tried so many different ways to outline over the past, I think I’ve found my favorite – outlining from the end of the story.
To be honest, I’m almost ashamed of myself for not thinking of this approach earlier but today, I want to break down why I’ve decided this is the best way for me to outline and why you should try it, too.
1. I Alway Seem to Know My Ending
When I come up with an idea, usually the ending is one of the first things I come up with. In the past, I had my ending so I could work toward it with outlining. A solid ending, especially in a series, can tie up loose ends but leave just a few threads open for a potential sequel.
Now that I’m outlining backward, I start here and I find it’s easier to start with what you know than it is to stumble your way to what you know.
2. I have to think intentionally about each step
Because I’m working backward, I have to think about what steps a character would take to get to this point. I often get a little frivolous with subplots when I go from beginning to end, but because I’m starting at the end, I have to think logically. We’re so used to doing things chronologically (well, at least I am) that I don’t often think about all these extra things I’m throwing into my plot. When I do this in reverse order, I have to actually think and not take the power of plotting for granted.
3. Starting at the end can help with overall continuity
Because you have to think about each step, you can view the overall continuity in a different light. Think about how this can help in a close-ended series. I know when I published the first two books in The Cassie Morgan Series, I didn’t have the whole picture of my end game and that hurt me in the long run. I’m going to have to do some serious positioning in the series to make it all make sense.
4. Continuity equals a better story
Why do you want continuity? Well, continuity helps with a tighter story and a better story because your story is cohesive. No one likes reading two books in the same series when details contradict themselves.
5. The easiest way to do this is on paper
I always like to plot my books with notecards! I use sticky tack and plot things on my wall. I love this method because it allows me to rearrange things as I need to in case I fit something else into the story.
I like to see the actual, physical big picture when it comes to plotting. It only took one try to fall in love with this style of outlining, but now I’m convinced I will always outline like this.
Tell me, how do you outline?