After a week off for good behavior (I typically don't blog in 5th weeks of the month), I'm back with a cool outlining hack for writers.
If you're anything like me, your outline is probably about one-third as long as your actual book. No, but really. *stares in plotter* I do a full chapter-by-chapter outline for each book, revising it in between drafts.
I usually have everything from GMCs to worldbuilding notes to actual dialogue in my outline, so it can be challenging to find things once they're in there.
The solution is very simple: hashtags!
Along with color coding for elements like plot or theme (I use BLUE text for plot elements and PURPLE for theme), I add hashtags to any areas I might want to quickly find later. Then, all I have to do is type the hashtag into Word's Navigation bar, and everything I tagged pops right up.
Reader, it's been a lifesaver.
A few tips:
1. Use hashtags sparingly!
When I started, I was tagging EVERYTHING, which isn't as useful as it sounds because when everything is significant, nothing is.
2. Choose hashtags that chart a progression over time.
For instance, one of my tags is #powers. By tagging significant uses of #powers throughout the story, I can chart the progression of the characters' powers and see their growth.
3. Include a short list of hashtags in your footer.
That way, you don't forget which ones you used.
4. Consider using some of the same core hashtags.
Tags like #plot, #theme, and #GMCs can be really helpful no matter what you're writing.
5. Use a #SUMMARY hashtag beneath your chapter headings.
I just started writing short 1-2 sentence summaries beneath my chapter headings. Not only does this give me at-a-glance views of each chapter, I can use these short summaries as the zero draft of my synopsis. We all hate writing those things, so why not make it easier?
Here are the current hashtags I'm using:
#soulmates: to track the love story and how it unfolds
#ewound: to signal the main characters' emotional wound
Best of luck with all your writing endeavors!