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Write With Me: Outlining - Interview with Loraine Garcia

Questions by Perri McGillivray

Find the original post here.

P: Hi Loraine! First of all I have to say I love reading your “Write With Me” series. Watching someone else break down the story writing process into small, digestible pieces really helps me feel less alone in my own writing process. What inspired you to create this series?

L: If I’m being honest, I really enjoy watching people go through their writing process. Not only do I learn new things through doing that but it also makes me want to write. I completely relate to you when you say that it helps you feel less alone in your writing process. I am a big fan of live writing sprints for that reason and I don’t do live writing sprints, but I still wanted to help other writers out there feel less alone, so I’m glad it seems to be working!

P: Right now we’re on the third step of the writing process: outlining. How many steps do you plan on writing about in the “Write With Me” series? Can we have a little teaser on what’s to come?

L: After outlining, the next big step is to actually start writing (honestly, the most daunting step). In the blog post centered on writing, I’m hoping to give some tips like how to stay focused when writing and more topics, which you guys will see next month! Then after that, I’m going to be doing one last installment about the revising and editing stage.

P: How has writing this series helped you in your own story writing process? Are you working on one specific short story through this or just as a general practice?

L: Since I do tend to do some research whenever I’m writing a part for this series, I have learned some new things that I want to implement into my writing process. For example, I had no idea about Dan Harmon’s Story Circle until I started writing my most recent blog post. I found myself really loving the Story Circle because not only did it focus more on a character’s arc rather than just the plot, but it’s something that your character can go through multiple times since people constantly change–which is why it’s called the Story Circle.

I have been writing one specific short story while simultaneously doing this series but I’ve also been using the things I’ve been learning in my longer projects as well.

P: Okay, on to outlining–in this post you talk about being more of a “pantser” when it comes to plotlines and a planner when it comes to characters. Why do you think you differ between the two? Does this process work for you or are you trying to change it in any way?

L: I think I tend to focus way more on my characters because it has been hammered into me that characters are the story. The actions of a character are what drive the plot for me. I often think about how a plot can change if I just changed the main trait of my character and how that change would impact how they react in certain situations. For example (and this is probably a really basic example), how would an assertive character solve a problem vs. how would a more docile character solve a problem? If both have different ways of solving a problem, then that changes the course of the story which is why I emphasize characters so much.

So far, I think this process has worked the best for me and I wouldn’t dream of changing it. My goal whenever I write a story is to write memorable characters that an audience can relate to somewhat.

P: Where did you first discover the 3-act story structure? Why is this your preferred method of outlining?

L: I honestly have no idea when I first discovered the 3-act story structure since it feels like I’ve known about it forever. I probably learned it early on in school (like elementary school or middle school). I wouldn’t say I prefer it but it’s more like I used it because it was the main thing I learned in school, but I’d be willing to try out different story structures as well!

P: I noticed you include MBTI personality types in your character outlines. How does this inform your perception of a character? Do you study MBTI personality characteristics or take inspiration from other characters with the same MBTI type?

L: When I first begin to create a character, I usually think of one trait that they embody the most. For example, in one of my stories I have a character named Maeve and the one thing a reader will instantly notice about her is that she is very talkative. She loves to be around people and she will talk their ears off if they’d let her. But there’s more to people than just one trait, so to sort of help flesh my characters out more I look at MBTI personality traits.

From how I described Maeve so far, you can probably tell that she is an extrovert but is she more of an analyst or an explorer? The one thing I love about MBTI personality types is that they’re separated into four categories: analysts, diplomats, sentinels, and explorers. These categories have their own small descriptions too so it makes it easier to narrow down what personality type a character is exactly. For Maeve, I knew right off the bat that she would be an explorer but was she an ESTP or an ESFP? Reading the detailed descriptions of these personality types (which you can find here) usually helps me choose which is the best suited for my character. Now, I don’t make my characters exactly like their MBTI type but I do borrow some characteristics so they’re not one-dimensional.

P: Also, what’s your MBTI type? Mine’s INFP!

L: Ooh a fellow introvert! I’ve taken the test three times (just to see if I’ve changed at all) and I’ve gotten INFJ all three times.

P: What do you hope our audience takes from this post? What about this series as a whole?

L: I hope our audience is able to learn new things from this post and from my series in general that will help them in their writing journey.

P: And finally, where can our audience find you?

L: I’m not really active on social media but I’m debating creating a Twitter or Instagram account for my writing, so keep an eye out for that!

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