How I Outline


Believe it or not, I used to be a pantser.

For non-writer types that term might be a bit confusing. Essentially, a pantser is a writer who doesn’t outline and writes “by the seat of their pants”. I did this with one successful outcome (Bloodstream) out of many unsuccessful ones. I cannot tell you the frustration when I would lose steam halfway through a project, or forget the basics that I had in my head at the time that I began a new project.

Since then, I have been trying to find the “right” outlining method for me. There isn’t a one size fits all outlining template out there. Actually, there are many, and though each one seems to work to a degree there has never quite been one that has fit like a glove.

So I began to pull what does work and leave out the pieces that don’t. I decided to snatch up a few (cheap) empty binders and designated them for my novel projects. These are what I call my book manuals. So what goes in a book manual, you ask?

Each area has designated information. Outline, the characters, and the setting are the important parts of my manual. I don’t feel I need anything aside from these three things so I haven’t added anymore. I’m keeping it simple.

So while this particular project is set in modern day Earth, it’s nice to add a few bits of information in case I need a quick fact about the State my book is primarily set in. Plus, it keeps me from Googling it and then getting lost in research. Distractions are limited that way.

The character portion will have detailed character sheets, and maybe a portrait or two of what my character looks like to keep them in mind when I’m writing them. This way, I can just double check the manual to make sure I got the info right the first time.

The outline portion is a beast. It hosts practically the entire story itself; main plot, plot twists, timeline, scene outlines, and practically anything else I need to remember. This is also the most flexible and ever-changing portion of my manual. I’ll add the bits I need, or take away what I decide needs to be discarded as the book progresses.

This is still a huge work in progress for me, but so far it’s working. I’m so excited to delve into this novel with my book manual at my side. But, for now, I am still filling it with the information I know is still needed in order for me to begin.

Camp NaNo

So here I am, at it all again. Camp NaNoWriMo is an off-shoot to the official NaNoWriMo website. It’s basically a watered down version of NaNoWriMo where you can set your own personal word goal, you have a “cabin” full of writers, etc. It runs April and July this year, but in previous years it ran at different months. You can write just about anything from novels to screenplays, or even just work on editing. It’s perfect for those who can’t commit to NaNoWriMo in November, or who need to start off with a smaller goal.

Now last November, I hit the 50k mark within the first two and a half weeks of the event. I was on a high so after a full day of celebrating I went right back to it, and completed the rough draft. It ended up just about 55k total. Not amazing, but not bad either. Since then I had issues trying to get started on editing; I was terrified because I’ve never completed a rough draft and I didn’t know how to edit. It’s scary the first time around, and even though I tried I often stopped a day into editing and quit, only to try to restart a week later.

When I found out there would be a camp in April I thought I might take a break from this editing fiasco and write something different. I figured I needed to get my mind off of my “baby” before I came back to rip it to shreds. Of course, two weeks before camp I began to feel as though I needed to continue on with the story – just book 2. After a little consultation with some fellow writers, I decided to go for it.

April 1st rolled around and it took me a while, but I managed to hit my personal goal for that day. By the 2nd I was doing well, and by the 3rd I was really sick and lost some writing time. It’s been rough going due to being sick, but I’ve muscled my way through it. I set a smaller goal this month of 35k, but my ultimate goal is to still hit that 50k mark by the end of April. Of course, having only hit 5k so far it’s hard to see the 50k goal line in the distance. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get there, maybe I won’t. At least I’m writing what I love and I have people to encourage me to do it.


Update on Bloodstream Series

I’m terrible, it seems, with blogs. I have a bad habit of creating them only to let them sit around for days, weeks, or months at a time. In hope to remedy that, I have been trying to break my bad habits. One is to try to use a blog more, and keep it regularly updated. For me, regular is at least once a week. I’ve also starting journaling on occasion to keep myself writing on the days I don’t feel like it, and to also have a “hard copy” of something that will remind me of the struggles I’ve faced, and overcome, in my life as a writer.

A while back I read a book about being a writer. The book, which is called You Are a Writer, really helped me to realize something that I had been doubting for many years: that I am a writer. For the longest time I thought saying the words meant you had a publishing contract, or you had sold at least one book. Well, that’s wrong. A writer is someone who writes for the pure joy of writing. It isn’t measured in how many books you have completed, published, or sold. It’s about one thing and one thing only: writing. I used to use “aspiring writer”, but nowadays I simply tell people I’m a writer.

Because I am.

In 2012 I finished my first ever rough draft. I had started projects and stopped them, and never finished anything in my life. I haven’t a single clue how to begin editing the thing, and creating something out of it that I can be proud to show off to friends and family. Do I think it’s worthy of publishing? I don’t know. Do I love it and feel accomplished? Yes.

I already have two more books planned, making it a trilogy. The second book will begin April 1st for Camp NaNoWriMo, an event I hope to win by not only exceeding my expectations, but finishing another rough draft. The excitement I feel over this series is nothing I have ever felt before when writing. I cannot wait to begin.


Hello everyone! You seem to have stumbled on my writing blog for some reason or another. How you got here is not important, it’s what your here for that is. My name is Brooke D. Wheeler and I’m a writer.

Yes, you heard me right. I’m one of those people.

After a very successful venture (after many unsuccessful ones) doing National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo) this year I decided to take the plunge. I completed a rough draft entitled Bloodstream, and I’m currently working on a few side projects and getting my platform base up and going.

So what do you expect from this blog? Writing, and lots of it. I’m currently working on a possible Web Serial to hopefully come out in late 2013, and editing for Bloodstream will begin in 2013 as well. That is unless the Mayans were right and we all go up in a ball of flame.

If that’s the case, this blog was all for nothing. Oh well. You’re all stuck with me until that happens, so keep a lookout for future blog posts and feel free to chat me up. I’d love to hear from you!