How I Outline My Serial Project
I’ve got a confession to make. I’m not much of a plotter. Plotting and outlining a story is definitely not my strong suit. I usually like to jump right into the story and see where the characters take me. Yep, that’s right, I’m a natural born pantser.
However, I decided to do NaNoWrimo again this year. For those of you who don’t know what that is, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place in November. It challenges writers to complete a 50,000 word novel within the month of November. As of the time of this blog post, I am knee-deep in drafting my Nano project.
Any writer who has participated in NaNoWriMo knows that whether you are a plotter or pantser, you’ve got to have a game plan if you want to survive and win NaNoWriMo.
For last year’s Nano, I created a brief, general outline of a story idea I had. However, I got about 11,000 words in before I threw in the towel. Now this could also be because the passion I had for this story idea waned during Nano, but that’s a topic for another day.
This year I knew I had to pick an idea that I was absolutely in love with and couldn’t wait to write. Not only that, I also needed a more detailed outline to get through the middle parts, which is where I usually get stuck. So I prepped and outlined my story, and now I want to share with you a little about that process.
The Azaïs Witches
For those of you who aren’t familiar with my writing projects, one project I’m working on is a serial called The Azaïs Witches. Now serials differ from novel series. Serials, which are sometimes called episodic fiction, are like TV shows but in book format. Each “episode” is like a short story. They are usually released pretty quickly, within a week or two of each other until the entire season is out.
My serial project, The Azaïs Witches, currently consists of four episodes in season one. It’s a YA paranormal story with witches, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures. I like to think of it as The Vampire Diaries meets Charmed (old school Charmed, not the reboot).
How I Outline
With this serial project, I outlined all four episodes in the season before drafting the whole thing. Now, I outline differently than most plotters. I know a lot of plotters use the story beats and will outline based on the opening image/hook, the catalyst, the midpoint, etc., but that’s not how my brain works.
I think in scenes and chapters. So when I outline, I jot down bullet points of what’s supposed to happen in each scene. Below is an example from episode one of how I outline. I’m only sharing with you half the outline because I don’t want to get into any spoilers. Got to keep some things a secret. 😉
The next part of my prep work was understanding my characters a little more. I use a character profile template I got from Author Brittany Wang. I’ll leave the link for Brittany’s site where you can get the template and the video she did that walks through the template. It was super helpful when thinking of my character’s fears and motivations and to develop their own unique voice.
For my characters’ appearance, I like to either look for inspiration on Pinterest or Google actors and actresses that I think look similar to my character. In this case, I went to Google. So below is an image I created with all the actors and actresses I think could fit my characters. If you want more details on how I chose these actors and actresses or want to know more about my characters themselves, click on the video above. I go into more details in the video.
The last part of my prep work was figuring out the world and the supernatural creatures that are in this world. Like I mentioned earlier, there are witches, vampires, and werewolves in this world along with some demons, witch hunters, hybrids, and other creatures we may not see until later seasons.
Part of my world building was figuring out the powers/abilities of each creature. I needed to know their weaknesses, how to create more of them, their origin stories of how they came to exist (I love origin stories, 😁), etc.
I also used a site called Fantasy Name Generator to come up with names and terms for certain things. In fact, I got the name for the coven of witches in this story (Azaïs) from that site. That’s how I came up with the serial title The Azaïs Witches. If you’re a writer and need help to come up with names for characters, places, or other things, then definitely check out that site.
So that is how I outline and prepped this project to get ready for NaNoWriMo. How do you outline and prep? Or are you a pantser who skips the outline and jumps right into the story? Let me know in the comments below. If you are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, be sure to stop by my shop and check out a couple new designs I created just for NaNoWriMo.