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How to Outline Books Like a Pro

If you're a writer, you've probably heard this question before: are you a plotter or a pantser?


Personally? I'm somewhere in between. A plantser, if you will. I like to outline the big plot moments in my stories, and then I let the writing take me where it will. Usually my final result only kind of resembles the original outline.



I've tried a bunch of outlining techniques over the years - the sticky note method, lists in a notebook, Word documents, worksheets - but I've only recently found what I believe to be the magic formula for outlining.


Are you ready?


It's a little program called Campfire.


The Best Outlining Program - EVER


I first heard about Campfire from a friend of mine who's really into DnD. Apparently a lot of DMs (dungeon masters) use it to craft worlds and stories for their DnD players.


I was just starting to write my current fantasy novel at the time, and I was looking for a way to keep all my worldbuilding details organized and easy to access. So I did a little checking into the program.


It. Is. Amazing.


It is a standalone program (or they have a web version, if that's your thing) where you can develop characters, weave plotlines, build worlds, and write your story. I tried a free trial of the standalone program and immediately fell in love. It's fully customizable, and you can keep track of everything from character stats and characteristics to magic systems and maps of your world. I'm not kidding when I say that the developers have thought of EVERYTHING.


Speaking of outlining, though, here's a little preview of what my story timeline looks like:




Each of the speech bubbles opens into a detailed page about each plot point in my story. Within that page, I can link characters, settings, and magic systems. I can also add pictures and maps to each plot point for easy reference later.


This program is SO FUN.


A Word of Warning


Just a word of warning though: if you purchase this program, you WILL fall down the rabbit hole and spend a week (or longer) creating your story bible and exploring all the fun pages.


Check out their website if you're interested in the program. They just launched a new version called Campfire Blaze, which is a web-based program that includes a word processor so you can outline AND write your story within the same program. I'm sticking with the standalone version because I like that I can use it without an internet connection. I'm old school, I guess!


Final Thoughts


If you're looking for a fun way to plot or outline your next story, give Campfire a try! It makes the process fun (at least it did for me) and interactive. Plus, with all this info in one place, I'll never have to worry about a character having blue eyes in one scene and green eyes in another. :P


Are you a plotter? What does your process look like? Please share in the comments!