Day 81 Reporting – 2,024 Words/Day Process Log – Outlining – A Skillset

I just realized why I haven’t liked outlining stories – it’s a skillset I haven’t developed. I have a tendency to get into the details of analyzing stories and overlook the underlining structure. The structure is like the trunk of the tree. The details are the branches.

I am very much a branches kind of person.

For example, the thing with outlining romance structure is that there are two things happening at once – the outward sequence of events and the inward sequence of events. Most of a romance happens in the character’s mind – I want to love this person, but… The but being the conflict which is the story the characters are telling themselves. Change the story and then the character sees the world differently because they are different which is why romances are so powerful. Alas, this was supposed to be about outlining, right?

I’m starting to already see a difference in a romance that hangs on a mystery and a mystery that has romantic elements. I’m currently reading a mystery with romantic elements so it’s taking my romance-loving brain a while to get around that. I’m used to reading about that push-pull of romance and all the feels, but this isn’t a romance. It’s a mystery. So, the story is about solving the mystery with the main characters having a growing awareness that they have romantic feelings for each other.

Now, if I had a consistent way of outlining a story, I would be able to see the difference between a romance with a mystery and a mystery with romantic elements. But I don’t. And I used to beat myself up about that. It seemed like other people could be told – outline a story and they’d nail it. Meanwhile, I’d be like – uh…

But it’s a skillset. A skillset means this is something that I need to learn how I outline or analyze stories so that they make sense to me. It also means that I need to give myself grace and the space to experiment with different frameworks to find the best one that works for me. It won’t be perfect the first attempt or maybe even the fifth, but as long as I keep playing with the structure and trying different formats, eventually I find something that works.

Keep moving forward. Keep getting better.

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As of Day 81, – 3/21/24

# of Words I Wrote/# of Words Written To Be on Track/Year Goal


About Irette Y Patterson

Irette Y Patterson is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and romance. She has been published in FIYAH, Strange Horizons, Translunar Travelers Lounge and on the website of The Saturday Evening Post. When not writing, you can find her digging around in her garden or catching the latest musical in the theater.
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