1. EightyD

    EightyD Member

    Jan 2, 2019
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    Oxfordshire, England

    Outline help

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by EightyD, Jan 14, 2019.

    I have a story that I have been working on getting started and I have a handful of more specific scenes and subplots already roughly written out. I'm trying to get started on a loose outline so I can get a better look at the big picture, but I am afraid that I may be making it too detailed in some parts.
    Does it really matter how specific an outline is? I can see the benefits of both a sparse and well filled outline, but I don't have much experience in the writing world and would like to know what has worked for others. Thanks.
  2. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.
    Just because you fill an outline in doesn't mean you can't change it. I'm not sure what you are worried is going to happen.
    EightyD likes this.
  3. Tristan's Opa

    Tristan's Opa Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2018
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    Hickville in Virginia
    You also don't want to write the story before you're finished writing it. You'll miss the surprises and really good parts! ;)
    LoaDyron, SethLoki and EightyD like this.
  4. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

    Jul 24, 2017
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    The great white north.
    I like starting vague. Just bullet points of what I've got in mind, trying to fill out the plot structure with each point being a sentence or two at most. Then if I've got specific scenes in mind, I'll write those and try to fit them onto my outline. Then I'll try to figure out certain plot points, and where conflict is going to come from, and how many characters I think I need or want to accomplish the story goals I'm hoping to meet, then figure out locations, etc. But basically I try to start lean, making sure the major bits are figured out, and fill in as I go, keeping track of points and changes to the story and characters. Eventually, too, I will map out the rough layout of the area my characters are in, as well as the floor plans of buildings they may frequent, just because I'm horrible at that whole left-right thing, and it makes it easier to make sure locations don't have changing architecture from scene to scene. But again, a good deal of this is happening as I progress with the story.
    LoaDyron and EightyD like this.
  5. LazyBear

    LazyBear Banned

    Oct 27, 2017
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    Uppsala, Sweden
    As someone who's bad at steering the story into key events, I'd start making a 2000 word pilot to get a sense of the style and hook. Then fast write some fast paced improvisations with room for more detailed explanations later, just to make sure that the events make sense emotionally in that order. Don't be afraid to toss all the plans out if you find something even better while writing, but don't enter a possibly derailing predicament without having an emergency exit planned. Always see your first draft as garbage ready to be torn apart and improved, because you'll need rough editing before doing grammar checks and fine polishing.

    Common derailing cues:
    * Death & destruction (Where's the main character going to life now that his house is gone and friends are dead?)
    * Predicaments (How is he getting out from the hole? Will his legs magically heal?)
    * Ending relations (How will the plot stay interesting without adding too many characters?)
    * Depression (Hard to just snap out of it.)
    * Reaching ultimate power (What now?)
    * Wealth (So where's the next challenge? Joining a boring golf club?)
    EightyD likes this.
  6. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

    Sep 7, 2016
    Likes Received:
    It's almost entirely up to your personal writing style. Some people love detailed outlines; other people draw up a basic skeleton and flesh it out as they go. Personally, I went through and wrote a 2-3 sentence summary of each chapter in the book just so that the major plot lines were tied together throughout. But it was loose, and only served as a point of orientation when I got lost.

    I think the best advice to give, especially if you're just starting out, is to just write. Write the story, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, however you like. Jump around, or go in a line: do whatever you need to in order to get the words onto paper. Sometimes, we get so caught up in trying to do something 'right' that we end up not doing it at all. The truth is that nobody knows what will work best for you any more than you do yourself: so try a bunch of things, and find out your personal preference. Once you know, everything else will be easier. And if you every need any solidarity, we'll be here to cheer you on, or answer your burning questions like "how much does my fantasy dragon actually weigh?"
    EightyD likes this.
  7. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

    Jul 31, 2018
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    Yes, it does.

    Your outline must be ok to you and to that project and to the workflow that you use in that particular project.

    Outline is a writing tool. So it must help both workflow and innovative thinking. It must give you enough structure and enough room.

    You are the only person in this planet who knows how much and what kind that is.

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