Preptober: Having A Strong Map For Your Adventure

Preptober: Having A Strong Map For Your Adventure

Preptober Week 5

You have all the ingredients, but do you have the recipe for your story? Time to think about what you are going to do to make sure your Nanowrimo is a success.

To Pantsers: 

You might look at an outline and be horrified by the very concept, but it is valuable to have for many reasons. For example:

  • So you do not lose your way in the plot
  • To have a ‘map’ for your characters. Example, finding a super important item to save the day and then have to rewrite the middle to work that detail in 
  • It lets you jump around the plot when writing (I’ll explain this)
  • Makes sure you do not try to figure out how to get to A to B while writing 

It also does not have to be as complicated as you think they are.

To Plotters:

I do not need to convince you to outline, just do not drive yourself insane doing so. 

You do not need a breakdown of the environment, maps of the area, and background of minor characters. I promise.

“Jumping Around” When Writing 

Sometimes you are at a scene that is a complete and utter chore to write. You struggle and are miserable, but you have to write it.


Cause here is the thing, movies are not shot in order so why should books be written in order?

If you do not have an outline you may find the reason behind this is: you do not know what is going to happen later on. With an outline, you can stop writing a particular scene and pick another from your outline to work on instead.

You can get ahead of your word count even if you do not know which chapter the scene might be in. I tend to just stick them under titles like “Alex tells Aiden Where He Can Put His Grapes,” so I can tell at a glance which scene it is when I need it. When word count is less important I go back and work on the scenes I do not want to focus on in that moment.

Ok Back To Outlines

I find there are two ways I like to outline: the Wikipedia Summary and the Plot Points.

Wikipedia Summary

To give you an idea of what to do, pull up your favorite movie or book on Wikipedia and check out the summary there. You will see how just the important basics are listed, sometimes details may seem absurd with the sudden mention of a plot twist that was well set up in the source, but here it seems random. All the foreshadowing, character-building moments, and fun downtime interactions are left for the reader to see and envision for themselves. 

Think about how your own story would look if you summarized it this way; just bare-bones character descriptions, a word to explain actions, and a multi-chapter flashback regulated to a sentence. 

Plot Points

This is literally a bulleted list of plot points:

  • A is a girl who finds herself in a new world
  • c happens and A must find a solution
  • B here now
  • Plot stuff
  • Everything is good now

Something I like about this is being able to write down what needs to happen in the plot and then rearrange the details into an order that works. When you know what needs to happen, but not when it feels most natural for it to happen, it can be a big relief to just ignore the timeline. 

There is also the upside of this method is you can add bullet points to your bullet points, like so:

  • A is a girl who finds herself in a new world
    • is 16
    • Has powers that allow her to x, y, and z
    • Has a cat with her

You can add the details you need once your main points are organized or written down. Details such as what other characters are doing, a bit of descriptive information that you may need to mention here, and the real reason something happened that the character might not be aware of adding intrigue or backstory.

Of course, you can change both of these to what suits you, your time schedule and your style, and I encourage you to do so. 

I also encourage you to share your changes over on Twitter with the #preptober2020 and #WiseWordsPreptober and to keep an eye on the Preptober & Nanowrimo category for the Nanowrimo continuation!