slitheringink:

Outlines

Writers are never short on ideas, but oftentimes we have trouble sorting them out and getting them down on the page. It can be daunting, especially when you have a complex concept or world that has to be built, but it’s useful to know that you’re not the only one facing this issue. As such, there have been many methods devised to help you better organize your story ideas and punch that first road block right in the face. One such is the outline.

First, if you don’t already know the structure of a story, I’d check this article out: Plotting Methods for Meticulous Plotters 

There are a TON of ways to handle an outline, and everyone has their own methods. I don’t usually link the Daily Mail, but here’s an article they did showing some outlines belonging to famous authors to give you an idea of the variations. I’m going to be covering a more standard format in this section.

Outlines are useful for organizing the time line of events in your story as well as keeping track of multiple character arcs. You can be as detailed, or as brief, as you need to be with your outline, since you’re going to be using it as the skeleton for your story. Nothing you write for your outline is set in stone. Expect it to change because stories evolve as you build them. I recommend typing outlines for easy editing at a later point.

I normally set up outlines like this:

Chapter #

Character (Since I have more than one POV.)

  • Idea for how the chapter opens, what the focus character is doing.

  • Details, which will include a description of what happens next, how my character feels about the situation, maybe a line of dialogue I thought of, a piece of imagery I want to use, a question if this particular item is appropriate for the scene or better served elsewhere, a concept idea, a note about how this plot line may or may not work later, etc. It is always easier to move a story element in an outline than it is in the actual draft.

  • Continue listing what happens

  • Next, taking up as much space and as many bullet points as you need. Use a new bullet point when you have a new idea, or a new action or event. My outlines for chapters tend to be a page or more, as I’m very specific.

  • If you only have a general idea of what’s going in a section, or you’ve dug yourself into a plot hole that you can’t fix right now, make a note and come back to it later. You may find as you progress in your outline that you will come up with an acceptable answer to your stuck point working on a later chapter.

  • How the chapter ends. It should lead into the next chapter.

If you want to track character arcs, you can highlight or color-code your text for specific characters throughout the outline so you can see their progression through the overall narrative. I also tend to make note of how I want this character to change by the end of the book if necessary.

My outlines, when I actually do them, tend to go on for a while. The last time I did one the document was around 20 pages or so. This, of course, may be way too much detail for some of you, so feel free to slim down.

Bare Bones Outline:

Chapter 1 (Title, if applicable)

Character

  • Main character bites into sandwich. The act of doing so transports him into a different realm.

  • He falls out of the sky and onto a funeral precession.

  • Disoriented, he is attacked by the precession’s guards while being shouted at by the mourners.

  • Our hero runs away, still having no clue what’s going on. He flees into the woods.

  • He ends up stumbling around, nearly crashing into trees, and eventually runs into what looks like a rock. However, the rock moves and turns to reveal it’s some sort of creature.

  • End chapter on main character staring at the angry, dripping maw of the beast.

This example shows you the main points of the chapter, the focus character, his possible conflict, and an end point that leads you right into the next chapter.

Bulleted lists work the best for me as far as formatting goes, but feel free to use standard numbers, arrows, or Roman numerals if that suits you best.

Outline Tools:

Some people like to use specific programs for outlining. I use OpenOffice (or Microsoft Office, but I’m cheap), though others exist:

  • Microsoft One Note (usually comes with new Windows PCs).
  • Omni Outliner (Mac OS).
  • Free Mind (not a traditional outline and is instead a visual mapping tool).
  • Scrivner.
  • Redhaven Outline.
  • Excel or Google Docs (for spreadsheets).

Happy outlining!

-Morgan


Source: slitheringink

writersfriend:

This is a quick exercise designed to sketch out the major events of your novel. It only gives you a map— you have to make the drive yourself!

Get a kitchen timer or set your alarm. You’re going to free-write for three minutes on several questions. (If you want to cheat and write for five minutes on each, go ahead. Just be warned the exercise might take you an hour then.) In free-writing, you put your fingers to keyboard or pen to paper and write, without regard to grammar, spelling, sense, or organization, for a specified period of time. The trick is— you can’t stop till the bell rings. If you can’t think of anything to say, you just write your last word over and over. Pretty quick you’ll get bored and think of something else to write. But remember, turn off the editor. This is exploration, not real writing. 

Type or write the question, then set the clock, read the question allowed, and go. 

Read More


writersfriend:

This is a quick exercise designed to sketch out the major events of your novel. It only gives you a map— you have to make the drive yourself!

Get a kitchen timer or set your alarm. You’re going to free-write for three minutes on several questions. (If you want to cheat and write for five minutes on each, go ahead. Just be warned the exercise might take you an hour then.) In free-writing, you put your fingers to keyboard or pen to paper and write, without regard to grammar, spelling, sense, or organization, for a specified period of time. The trick is— you can’t stop till the bell rings. If you can’t think of anything to say, you just write your last word over and over. Pretty quick you’ll get bored and think of something else to write. But remember, turn off the editor. This is exploration, not real writing. 

Type or write the question, then set the clock, read the question allowed, and go. 

Read More


Source: writersfriend

writersfriend:

I. Novel Outlining

A novel outline is a story plan, written in the abbreviated form of a traditional outline with headings and subheadings. We’re often taught how to outline a novel in school when we learn how to write book reports. To borrow a theme from Jennifer Crusie’s latest novel, the easiest way to think of it is as a story to-do list.

An outline is valuable in a couple of ways: it creates a map of your novel, so you know where you’re going when you write. Depending on how detailed the outline is, it can also be the foundation or first draft of your synopsis.

An outline need not be lengthy or contain all the details of your story. It can be as simple as Peter De Vries suggested: a beginning, a muddle, and an end.

II. Outline Examples

The beginning of this post is the outline I wrote of it. It’s the sort of outline I personally prefer: simple, concise, orderly, or just the facts, ma’am. Let’s haul out John and Marcia and put some of their story into outline form:

Angel’s Darkness by Temperance Rising — Section Outline

I. Novel Part One

   A. Chapter One: Introduce John, Marcia, demon thief and mystic diamond at Halloween party. 

   B. Chapter Two: John and Marcia prevent thief from retrieving diamond.

   C. Chapter Three: John’s investigation of theft, diamond and Marcia reveal unholy demonic plan.

   D. Chapter Four: John and Marcia discover the truth about each other’s half-blood, which should make them immortal enemies.

   E. Chapter Five: The thief forces John and Marcia to go on the run with the diamond.

Now all of the above are just main chapter points, or the gist of what happens in each chapter. There are no details of how we meet John, Marcia and the thief, or how John and Marcia keep the diamond from the thief, or in what way they discover they were born to be immortal enemies. For that, we do a chapter outline:

Angel’s Darkness by Temperance Rising — Chapter Outline

I. Chapter One

   A. Scene One: John and Marcia meet and have a quickie at the half-blood Halloween party.

   B. Scene Two: A demon thief plants a soul-stealing diamond on Marcia to smuggle it out of the house. 

   C. Scene Three: John pursues Marcia and the diamond, and catches up with her at her house, where the demon is waiting.

   D. Scene Four: John senses evil, convinces Marcia to have coffee with him, and Marcia’s house explodes.

Each of the above points outlines a scene in Chapter One. We have more details now of what happens while we’re being introduced to John, Marcia, demon thief and mystic diamond at Halloween party. This may be as detailed as you want to get with your outline, or you can take it to the next level, which is the scene outline:

Angel’s Darkness by Temperance Rising — Scene Outline 

I. Scene One

   A. John arrives at his friend Bruce’s home for the annual half-blood Halloween party. There in the foyer he bumps into a beautiful human librarian named Marcia.

   B. Marcia doesn’t know anyone at the party but Bruce, who is busy, so John takes her to get some refreshments and chats with her over the punchbowl.

   C. Marcia drinks a cup of punch which she and John don’t know is spiked with half-blood aphrodisiac, and loses all of her inhibitions.

   D. John takes advantage of an adult version of Seven Minutes in Heaven to protect Marcia from the punch-spiker, and ends up having sex with her in Bruce’s coat closet.

Now, you can put them all together, and you have a comprehensive outline:

Angel’s Darkness by Temperance Rising

I. Novel Part One

  A. Chapter One: Introduce John, Marcia, demon thief and mystic diamond at Halloween party.

    1. Scene One: John and Marcia meet and have a quickie at the half-blood Halloween party.

      a. John arrives at his friend Bruce’s home for the annual half-blood Halloween party. There in the foyer he bumps into a beautiful human librarian named Marcia.

III. Keeping It Simple and Useful

When you go to the grocery store, and you look at your shopping list, you see things like eggs, milk, bread, butter, and so forth. You don’t see buy eggs because my honey likes them on Sunday or buy bread for sandwiches for the kids’ lunches, my toast in the morning and grilled cheese on Thursday. You don’t need that information to effectively shop, and you already know it. Plus you might change your mind and decide to use all the eggs to make potato salad, or take the bread down to the lake and feed it to the ducks. 

It’s the same thing with an outline. You just need a list of things that need to happen in the story. How much detail you get into is up to you, but I would keep it as simple as possible, so if you do decide to change something, you can without a major hassle.

If you’re still not sure how you want to outline your novel, try outlining a novel you love by another writer. As with writing a synopsis, it’s usually easier to practice on someone else’s work, because the emotional attachment is different and probably not as intense.

Outlining a novel is becoming your story’s architect, and drawing up plans for what will be built. Before you break ground on your project, make sure you’ve got the blue prints you need to make it a solid construct.


Source: writersfriend