There are two habits that are great tools in helping you with a future and promising career in writing. Today I am going to talk about word count and outlining. I see many authors don’t like either, well I get that. But I also notice that most of the time it is because we complicate it. I say we, but I mean me. :^P
No big, we can’t help ourselves, we’re writers! Of course, we over-think everything. And yes, I mean me again.
So, if you’re a writer and you’re struggling, there are a few things I can suggest. In this post, I am going to tackle two things. And I am going to tell you in easy, bite size tips on how you can improve your productivity.
Yes, there are writers like Lee Child, Stephen King and Dean Koontz who don’t outline. But they find other ways to keep up with their stories, and they probably do more work than they need to, but it does work for them. I know that Koontz hand writes his book. He goes over every page around thirty times then moves on. After he is done he puts it into his old computer that is so old it has Word Perfect.
Point it is, he drafts the crap out of his stories so he is able to keep up with his story. But many writers think that outlining takes the magic out of it, or that outlining isn’t writing, and I am a little offended by that. In fact, the outline itself is writing, it is pantsing. Because no matter what you’re writing the ideas in your head at some point, and that is pantsing. And if you do it good, when you write your prose, you will have signposts that will redirect you The point of an outline is so that as you write, when you get lost you can get back on track. It helps to know where you’re going. At least have that safety net.
So, today I am going to use author team Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant from Sterling and Stone. These guys can write a 100K book from concept to published in 30 days. They can crank out over a million words in a year. They know their stuff. Sean and Johnny have what is called a beat system. I am just going to show you the basics of this system, but if you want to see it in action I recommend their video series on beats, or their Fiction Unboxed series.
Here you will write your idea for your story from beginning to end or as close to the end as you can. No worries you can always come back to write more.
Rough Story Arc-
Here you will take what you know, tighten it up a bit or expand on it. You might want to add subplots as well.
Here you will write a paragraph or two about your synopsis.
A single sentence of your synopsis.
Then we move onto character beats Which you will use a picture, be it an actor you like for the character, a family member, any face that relates to your character. Then you will fill out all the deets about your character. Granted, things like eye color are important, but here what is most important is their back stories, their narrative, their family, their goals, and what is it they have invested in the story. You can design the layout of the sheets how you feel is best.
And then there is location beats. Here you go location scouting if you have some interesting locations in your story. Google is great for this, but you can also go about your town or vacations and take your own pictures and use them as well. Whatever floats your goat. And then the beats, well tell about these locations. You can keep it brief or go into detail, but also write about things that you will include in your story. It is okay to write more than you will use.
Finally, there is the story beats. Here you will write a few hundred words about each scene or chapter in your story. I do it per scene. And do this through to the end. Then when you are happy with your beats, get to writing your prose! And although you have just written a lot, you are still able to keep it loose enough that you can still pants some. In fact, the beats serve as signposts to bring you back to the track. Where you go in between is entirely up to you.
And as for word count, I do anywhere from 500-2,500 words a day. Some days I get none in. But I am always working on keeping that word count. I really want 3,000 word days, at least on my off days. But hey, we make do. The point is, no matter how hard life gets, we need to acquire a discipline of some kind. Maybe you can only write a 100-350 words a day. Okay, awesome! You’re writing! That is what’s most important here. You’re making word-sauce!!!!
Alright I hope this helps some of you out there. I kept it general for you all to make your own, and if you want to see Sean and Johnny in action don’t forget to check out their videos. They also do a lot of specials and sometimes give away free advice. Especially on their self publishing podcast on Youtube and their personal site.
Have a good one, and feel free to post your feedback below.
Here is a video Sean was going to use for a free series but ended up making an awesome series in which you must pay for. Which I would have done the same thing in his shoes. I haven’t seen their Fiction Unboxed, but based on the advertisements and what I know about these guys from their books, it is well worth the price. But here is a video on beats.