Wednesday, July 26, 2017

1 WoW: Outlining Simplified with Candace Granger

Here on WoW, we're thrilled to have Candace Granger, author of THE INEVITABLE COLLISON OF BIRDIE & BASH, with us to discuss an important aspect of the drafting process – Outlining. There are many different systems and methods of outlining, some of which can be extremely time consuming and unappealing to pantser-type writers. But deciding not to outline has problems as well, since it can become difficult to spot issues with pacing and plotting until after the manuscript is written. 

Today, Candace is here sharing the simple, yet effective, method she used to outline her book. After the post, be sure and check out THE INEVITABLE COLLISON OF BIRDIE & BASH, which was released yesterday by St. Martin's Griffin and is available for purchase at all the usual places. Now, here's Candace.

Outlining Simplified (Because Life is Complicated Enough)
By Candace Ganger

When it comes to outlining, there’s a gazillion ways to do it, depending on who you ask. There’s the “snowflake method,” the classic and reliable “three-act structure”, the “pull-it-out-of-thin-air-and-hope-for-the-best” technique, the “ask your toddler what should happen” method, and too many more to list. Seriously. There’s too many to list.

Then, there’s the other camp with those who don’t use an outline at all (gasp!). I wish I had that much trust in the story or my characters, but I’ve tried this “pantsing” thing before, and all I ended up with was a weird contemporary with an Inception ending, + unicorns. I can’t be trusted with my wild thoughts, or I’ll spend way too long revising my way out of them after.

For my debut, THE INEVITABLE COLLISON OF BIRDIE & BASH, I used an outline; a thorough, but not boring, type. If I wasn’t excited to plan the story, why would I be excited to write it? My outlining process made drafting lightning fast, and while this specific book was atypical (finished in under 30 days), I generally draft fast anyway because of how I outline. Also, because I like the thrill of “can she finish or will she surrender in defeat?” I’m mega-competitive with myself so this pleases both the Author Me, and the Trash-Talking Me.

I’m asked all the time if I outline, and if so, what I use to get “there.” With as much writing as I have to turn in each week via my day job and freelance pieces (a lot), bookish things that require more time and energy sometimes get what’s left of me. Unless I have a plan. Up until summer hit (aka my kids got out of school and now stand directly in my face all day, every day), I managed to stick to my daily writing goal — thanks to my trusty, old system — and though I’m locked in neutral until the kids go back to school, I’ll be ready.

If you’re tired of all the outlining methods, I’m about to give you another! Yay! But I’m only doing so because it’s treated me so well, and I want others to have the ability to get through a draft painlessly. Cool? Here we go:
  • Buy a notebook, or use one you have on hand. Scribble down any, and every thought you have about this story. It can be details, scenes you want, random character names or characteristics — whatever. I have notebooks filled with mindless ramblings I can’t decipher now! The point is, it did its job at the time and now, they live happily on a tropical island somewhere in the Caribbean. 
  • Invest in the all-mighty Post-Its in various colors. They’re going to be your best friends for a while. Some may go for the white board thing, but I prefer having little papers everywhere. It’s part of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. That sounds like a cruel joke, but seriously. If it weren’t for Post-Its, I’d have nothing to obsess over (that I could remember).
  • Take all those incoherent thoughts from the notebook and transfer to one color of the Post-Its. For example, in one of my actual notebooks, I scribbled “accident happens.” On the same page, I wrote “They meet at a party.” These two events are connected now, but when I first wrote them in the notebook, they weren’t. I didn’t know they’d connect, actually. Put a different scene idea on a new Post-It. Only one. I know, it’s so hard to choose!
  • Spread all the same-colored scene Post-Its in front of you across a floor or gigantic table. It’s going to look like a jumbled mess but I promise you, there’s gold in there. You just have to sift to find it.
  • Begin by moving the pieces around to create a rough timeline. You can always rearrange. Because Post-Its rock.
  • Once your scenes look solid, repeat this process with a different colored Post-It. This time, focus on any previously written details you want to include in the scene. If you need your MC to draw bears (like Bash), note that. You can list several things on one of these.
  • Spread those babies out and stick them in wherever it feels right. Sprinkling information through your scenes will help with pacing.
  • Even if your house is a Post-It nightmare, you should see your through line of events, and the details to fill them with. This is usually when I open a Word document and type the outline with bullet points so I can see things clearly.
  • Find yourself a fluffy cat to pet because you did it! You’re ready to write your story. Remember to thank me in your acknowledgements. Joking. Sort of.

There you have it! I can’t guarantee your outlining process will be as easy as I’ve made it sound, but this process helps cut out the noise. Instead of researching “best outlining techniques,” all day, you can just get to it. So go forth and outline! Now!

Candace Ganger is a feisty author with a passion for Tweeting cat memes. Her YA debut is THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH (St. Martin's Griffin, July 25th, 2017), about two teens who fall in love, not knowing of each other's connection to a horrific tragedy.

Candace is also a ghost-writer for award-winning nonfiction and best-selling fiction authors and contributing writer for Teen Vogue, Romper, Hello Giggles, Bustle, TWLOHA, XO Jane, and more. She's worked previously as assistant editor for and her various creative endeavors (literally hundreds) are sprinkled all over the globe.

When she's not writing for other people's fame or stress baking, you can find her training for marathons in cemeteries or taming her two weird kids (not to be confused with her two weird cats) while consuming way too many Milky Way lattes. You can follow her obsessive cat picture posting shenanigans via @candylandgang on Twitter!
Find Candace on: Goodreads | Twitter | Blog

Birdie never meant to be at the party. Bash should have been long gone. But when they meet, a collision course is set off they may never recover from.

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger is a beautiful, complex, and ultimately hopeful teen novel that will move you to the very last page.
Buy the book: B&N | Amazon | Book Depository | Indigo

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