1. Rimbo
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    Rimbo New Member

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    Plot Outline

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Rimbo, Jul 1, 2011.

    Hi all, first post so go easy! I'm having a pop at writing a novel as it's something I've wanted to do for a while, mainly for a bit of fun and a challenge, but have never tried before so I'm seeking advice on where to start really.

    I've got a basic plot and notes on a few of the protagonists but I'm just wondering how to plan writing it.

    How detailed are your plot outlines usually? Do you do a blow-by-blow account of the book and pretty much everything that happens? Chapter-by-chapter? Or a very basic outline and then start writing and hope that the rest fleshes itself out?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    When I plot, it's pretty detailed in the beginning, end and some parts in the middle, but vague in the middle. I just write until I hit a blank spot and then construct from there.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I charge right in and write. Outlines be damned! The first draft becomes the "outline" for future drafts.
     
  4. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    That's usually what I do too. Only when I plan pretty far ahead and think I'll forget do I outline.
     
  5. MrNomas
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    MrNomas Member

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    I can't start writing without some sort of outline. It doesn't have to be much - just a few plot-points that get me from chapter 1 to the end - but I have to have something. If not, I'll end up writing myself into a corner (it has happened) and never finishing.
     
  6. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I hadn't thought of it like this but I laughed when I read this because it hit home. This is what I do.

    While I'm writing a first draft some scenes come very easy. Others I end up with a scene that is more like notes for what I want to happen. The hardest scenes for me to write are fight scenes. My rough draft for those usually say - He hit her. She cried.

    I say just write.
     
  7. Declan
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    Declan Senior Member

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    I like to think of it as like sculpting.

    Get the shape, then make it perfect later.

    Just write it, a large body of writing is quite flexible so you can go over things afterwards.
     
  8. benfromcanada
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    benfromcanada Member

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    My outlines are rarely ever more detailed than what you already have, Rimbo. I mean, I have a beginning and an end in sight, both planned, however, I don't confine myself to the end. That is, I leave room for the ending to be changed if I decide I like another ending better. Hell, I've even switched protagonists partway through the writing process. I like it loose! (take that any way you want)
     
  9. Marranda
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    Marranda Senior Member

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    That made me almost laugh beer out of my nose- thanks! :D

    I personally like to have a very brief, very definite outline of where I want my story to start, and where I want it to end up. The meat in the middle (Take that any way you want ;) ) I like to leave as flexible as possible because anything can happen between Point A and Point B in my stories. All that matters is getting to where I want the story to end up.
    And I agree with this 100%. The first draft becomes my 'outline' as well.
     
  10. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm afraid some trial and error are the only ways for you to find what really works for you. I know that's what worked for me. Yet now I am actually moving out of that comfort zone to do more trial and error. Why? I don't know. I'm probably in need of a challenge. Like just writing well isn't enough of one.

    But to answer your question, I am near OCD about my plot outlines. I simply have far too many ideas for stories to leave whether a novel can be finished or not up to chance. That's why my plot outlines are very detailed, beginning to end. I spend at least a week just making up the whole plot (a more complex story can take a month or more). The outline is usually 20/30 word pages long in some cases, but I also add some bits of dialog I want to put in the story which takes up a lot of space, so it's not THAT bad (of course those 20/30 pages doesn't include the 20/30 pages of character info).

    Then I leave it for a few days until I lose inspiration for it, before looking at it again to see if I still think it's good. When I'm inspired I think everything is good. If I don't care anymore, something REALLY needs to be good for me to still like it. If I get new ideas while I'm writing, I take notes of them and leave the story for a bit to let the new idea simmer. If I decide the new idea is better, naturally I put that into the story instead of what I had originally planned.

    Some/most people probably wouldn't be able to stand writing like that, but it works very well for me. I also have 12 finished stories, meaning there is nothing more I can do with them at my current skill level.
     
  11. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    After I get an idea and theme down for my story, I use 3 X 5 index cards. It helps me lay out my scenes/chapters. I find that effective because it gives me a general overview of where I'm at. When I make progress, I might change a few words or two on my cards. That helps me construct a smooth storyline for a book. I never actually believed in writing scenes with index cards until I tried it. But it seems to work well for me.

    I now know you have different ways of constructing an outline. Just don't cram up your outlines into a pile of page outlines. I hate the thought of that. I was in a mess that way. And trust me, you don't want to know how I got into it. But to some people. writing many pages of outlines works better. Don't take my advice for it. See for yourself. There are many methods of starting a novel, so don't limit yourself just to one. Try different types of methods that other posters on here suggested, then you'll find your comfort zone. Sometimes you might want to try something different. I know I have.
     
  12. Rimbo
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    Rimbo New Member

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    Thanks a lot for all your comments. I've a lot to dwell on here.

    I'm sure many sleepless nights await!
     
  13. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Good luck with your writing. :)
     
  14. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    I buy a bunch of Moleskine notebooks and use one per storyline. I like starting off by giving a one-page character bio for each main character, then use a few pages to describe the setting, then outline the basic plot by main events, and then a good chunk of the notebook is dedicated to a very detailed plot. If I have any space left at the end, I describe the relationships between each of the main characters. Maybe I'm a little obsessive when it comes to this sort of thing, but at least I'm prepared! :)
     
  15. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't have detailed outlines at all.

    If needed, I do some brainstorming and make a few notes in the beginning. But usually, an idea (or beginning of an idea) comes to me, and I just start writing. Then as I go along, more ideas come, and so on. At some point I think ahead and try to anticipate or structure what comes next, especially if writing something of great length. For my current work I kept some lists/bulletpoints as reminders.

    But generally I keep very limited notes, paper scraps or anything of the sort.

    I have a feeling sometimes writers get stuck into planning, so much so that they don't actually start writing.
     

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