The connections between outlining and design are quite evident. It is even proper and correct to say that when one outlines, they are designing a story, novel, article, etc. With it being such an apt description of the process one is left wondering how one could implement design methods into plotting. That is what I’ve discovered with design thinking. It is a variation to a similar theme that will get you designing your work differently.
What Is Design Thinking?
According to Creativityatwork.com, design thinking is “a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients,” and “Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer).”
Even in its own definition it parallels the outlining process. That’s because writers are designing when they plan. They are actively solving problems and seeking solutions. The main difference is at what point the client falls. Designers can consult with the client directly and throughout the process, while writers don’t typically have a client, unless they’re writing for someone. Writers are often their own client and have to research and predict the impact a project would have on their end user.
A visual would be more helpful then an explanation. Below is a handy graphic pulled from the same website mentioned above (creativityatwork.com).
The process is genuinely comprehensive some of the steps have to be worded differently in order to apply fully.
Discovery is simple. It’s the steps you take before even planning. It’s your reading and critique of other’s work that all accumulates as data. It is also your previous work. Notice however, discovery is not aimless. You have to set a topic for yourself. This will also be the start of the process in figuring out what needs your audience has within the work of fiction you’re creating. This may include things such as sticking to a certain type of writing due to genre.
This is your first chance to start breaking stereotypical patterns of fiction. It is also your first chance to discover patterns in fiction that might be useful. Imagine the fiction you read as authority. Let yourself question it to hell, because what is often see is not what is exactly right.
Very common writing advice. I’m doing as I plot my novel and I’ve done it in short periods as I write short stories. Let the idea settle as you read more and write other things. Don’t be in an absolute hurry. Even under a deadline, give yourself a day or two to let the idea settle.
This is a writers bread and butter. Experiment, experiment, experiment. Challenge the POV you chose. Write in the perspective of an inanimate object. View what end result you want from you WIP and work towards that impact. It is thorough experimentation that produces works of wonder. Write slow and experiment.
All the ideas you come up with won’t be perfect, that the nature of creating. As you are designing your story and writing your work, realize that it is okay to kill of good ideas that aren’t working. Doing so will do your work a favor.
Get your draft out quickly. Study where the draft fell weak. Refine from there. You are getting the work ready for your audience.
The Beauty of the Process
This method of thinking, design thinking and thinking of writing as designing, work at all points of dealing with your writing: From plotting, to editing your final draft. This entire system of thought can be repeated throughout and continually to refine for yourself and for your audience, the most innovative work you could produce. Seeking to think like a designer when you write will elevate your writing beyond your currently seen capability. It will force you also, to interact with yourself. It will challenge what you know versus what you assume. It will be the self-pressure that eventually produces a diamond product.
*Disclaimer I don’t belong to the design world, and I’m stealing this concept because it fit so perfectly with writing. If I’ve misinterpreted this method, please correct me.*