1. Drusy
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    Drusy Senior Member

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    An Unstructured Structure (outlining)

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Drusy, Jan 8, 2013.

    I'm sure that a lot of you who have been around the forums for a while have seen this posting in some incarnation or another so please forgive me for doing it again. I am looking for a good method to outline my books. I have read so many self-help books, seen the charts, cast the runes, and nothing quite clicks. In my head I can see where my story is going but then I get lost so I am not a good candidate for the free flow methods. On the other hand, too much structure and I lose interest. It feels like I'm solving an algebra equation at that point. I'm visual and right brained but also require structure. My characters and Mr. Stuffingsworth (my profile monkey) would really appreciate any ideas for a more creative, streamlined approach. Thanks all!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is a stickied thread under General Writing, "What is your writing process?" It should go a long way toward answering your question.
     
  3. Drusy
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    Drusy Senior Member

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    Thanks for the directions! I'll wander that way. :)
     
  4. Gholin
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    Gholin Member

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    You sound a lot like me :). I always tend to lose my head when outlining, because I let myself get too bogged down in details. I often see the story in my head, but can't plot it. That was until I got some advice from author Brandon Mull about scenes being the most comprehensive and simple unit of a story and the best focus for outlines and plotting. So here's what works for me (At least, it has for two full short stories. I have yet to go through a novel due to my schooling):

    Write a simple one liner synopsis or scene heading per scene and mark all the most important scenes (i.e. Climax, turning points between acts, opening). The key is to keep it simple. You already know your story in your head, and the parts you don't know will write themselves once you have a direction. Your plot may even change mid-write. By keeping it simple you can glance over it and see the holes and weak scenes in overview. Each line should be a brief synopsis or a scene heading. One example of a scene heading would be "Aaron rescues the princess from the guild." You will know how that plays out when you write it by what you have written and what is in your head. All you need is to see its place in the structure to keep going the right direction. The outline should only be as many lines as your number of scenes. You can also add a different colored mark (i.e. red ^ sign for rising tension) for tension levels to visually keep track of rising and falling tension between scenes.

    If you keep your outline simple and scene-based, it will help you stop over-thinking and help you keep your direction. I hope that helps! It sure helped me when I wrote two short stories last semester, and both were successful. Just don't over-think or over-worry. Once you plot a simple outline, follow it and see where your writing goes. It will most likely deviate, but that's the magic right there!
     

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