November 9, 2015

Lining the Story Up

By Stephanie Payne Hurt

Writers are special people in a lot of ways. We have stories and characters that run rampant inside our head. Every writer has a different style of getting the story out and ready to write. For me that means it’s time to complete an outline, well actually two. One is the story outline and the other is the character outline.

That’s when I sit down while the story is still fresh in my mind. Most of the stories come to me from start to finish, but others come in waves, sometimes I get the ending before the start, which can provide a real challenge. This is when I get started on the outline of the images in my mind.

Since I now use Scrivener to write my manuscripts I can put the outline in and expand it from there. Also, if a certain part of the story comes at me stronger, then I can work on that ahead of the other chapters. I’ve actually written the middle of a story before the first part. Amazingly, it worked out and I actually wrote faster that way.

My outline stays somewhere near me at all times on my computer, in Scrivener and printed. That way I can go back and check a scene five chapters back. Of course as any writer does, I struggle from time to time on a certain scene. It feels like I can’t get it exactly as it needs to be. That’s when I move ahead to a chapter that seems to work out better. I can always go back to the problem chapter later.

As my outline comes together I have another outline working too. The character outline is filled out as I go, that way the characters stay straight on paper, even if not my head. All writers know the horror of forgetting something significant about a character, then diving into the manuscript to find out the missing link. But with a character outline, well you have it at your fingertips. Everything from hair and eye color, to scars and how they came to be, down to birthdates and everything you’d need to know about this character. Sometimes I even add places into the character outline too. If it’s a place that will appear often in the book, then you need to keep your facts straight.

Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes my outlines change slightly as the story progresses. A character may need tweaking and that’s possible too. The book I finished this week went along with the outline for about 12 chapters, but then something happened to change the course of the story. As I look back on the finished story now, I’m glad I made the change, but I couldn’t finish it without the original outline to keep me going.

If you have any questions about how I outline, please contact me. I’d be glad to help you out. I always say writers have to stick together!
Stephanie Payne Hurt has been writing stories since she was a teenager, but only started publishing her work in 2012, 30 years later. The romance genre drew her in at an early age. Since 2012 she's published over 15 Romance novels/novellas. Stephanie is a busy lady. She's a Children's Minister, Accountant, wife and mother along with a blogger and writer, along with starting a publishing service called Horseshoe Publishing alongside her publisher. It's been an exciting ride and she looks forward to what the future holds for her writing. Currently she writes romance ranging from Christian, Contemporary, Suspense and Cowboy. Her work is available at many online retailers, on her website and in a bookstore in Zebulon, Georgia near her home. Come by and visit her at and subscribe to get updates and release dates, also her monthly newsletter!  Don't forget to join her Street Team for all the new updates and to get free chapters of upcoming books and lots of other prizes.

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