1. Itachi1

    Itachi1 New Member

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    Plot outline

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Itachi1, Nov 16, 2016.

    Hi All,

    I am writing for the first time - hesitantly. Before I can even get to the juicy parts of character development, twists and all that jazz I am having difficulty getting a draft down, I am unsure about how much detail I should be going into.

    If anyone has a draft template that they use it would be greatly appreciated. Any pointers on how much detail I should put into each chapter, how much should happen etc. would be very helpful.

    Thank you all in advance because I know you will all give me brilliant suggestions which will seem so obvious after they have been written down.

    Itachi
     
  2. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    • I mostly just start with a rough bullet-point list of what I want to have happen
    • I write a couple of paragraphs about a possible beginning
    • I realize I have a better idea for the beginning
    • I make a new outline based on the new beginning I came up with
    • I delete the original beginning and start over
    • Every new idea I have turns into a new, more and more detailed bullet-point list before I do a lot to the text itself
    And that's about it ;) A lot of writers plan out every scene in final-draft level detail before they even put a single word into the narrative, but a lot of writers like me are more free-form.

    The first rule of writing is: rules are suggestions, not rules :cool:
     
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  3. CaitlinCarver

    CaitlinCarver Member

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    Details, details, details! What makes a book great? Details about the characters, what they're doing, how they're doing it, who they're doing it with, why they're doing it, what are the consequences of them doing it, and such.

    Just remember that you can always add or take away details as needed, but it's a lot more work to write a sentence than delete one.
     
  4. ddavidv

    ddavidv Senior Member

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    Maybe not get so focused on the idea of an 'outline'? I prefer using the term 'timeline' as to how I plan out a story. I need to put down what needs to happen and in what order. This way I keep my facts straight, introduce characters or occurrences in a logical sequence and so on.

    I think 'outline' is perhaps too rigid of a plan for some people. An outline is very specific: I do this (described in detail), then this (described in detail, etc. With a 'timeline' I just have: This happens. Then I need this to happen, followed by this. The specifics I allow to just flow out as I write. Works for me but may not work for you. Every writer is different.
     
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  5. JackyJack

    JackyJack Member

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    As a fellow beginner, I feel your pain :) Just focus on one thing at a time, for me - it was story. After the main events were chosen and aligned, pretty much everything took a general shape on its own. After the initial preparation of the backbone, I took scenes one by one and started adding details to the main course of the script. Can't make any great pointers at this time (still writing the into), but I'll definitely post my material on this forum. Maybe you can get some tips from the feedback.

    Oh, and try looking up some general advice from active authors like this article. Check out that blog further, if you find provided info useful, it has a lot of how-to materials for beginners.

    Good luck with your work.
     
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  6. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I generally write out of my head and make it up as I go along - I might have a vague idea where its going , or i might have pantsed a killer ending to head towards, but move direction and destination can change as things go forward.

    The other thing is to give yourself permission to be crap , no one writes wonderful shining prose straight off the pen (or keyboard). I bet Shakespeare didn't either. This is why they refer to it as 'the shitty first draft'.
     
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  7. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel Contributor

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    I'm a write-as-you-go sort of guy, too. I get a general idea of the characters, stakes, initiating incident, and basically where the story is going to go, then I write. Once I get a toehold I just keep going and soon it pretty much writes itself.

    One thing that helped me was to write a short story about my first book. It sort of captured the energy of the idea and gave me something to focus on as I wrote the larger work.

    I would definitely recommend starting very small: little short stories, flash fiction, idea fragments, events that may or may not have plot or stakes. Just try to get your feet under you and get used to putting words on paper--or screen, as the case may be.

    The most important thing I did was set a daily goal for writing. That forced me to practice practice practice, even when my head was spaghetti after a nutty day at work. Those days, especially, are the most important. They make your brain tough and increase your mental endurance.

    Best of luck and, most importantly, have fun!
     
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  8. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    If you're just starting to write, I say just jump in and go for it. Some people write via outline or timeline, some just go for it. If you struggle with making an outline, don't let that keep you from writing! Go for it, you'll figure out what works for you with experience.
     
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  9. Itachi1

    Itachi1 New Member

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    Thank you all so much, I am going to have an outline of where I want the story to go and then just let it flow because atm I am still trying to find my voice.
     
  10. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    Hello Itachi,

    I can only offer up the method I use. This method I use it actually a combination of a number of different methods and theory based on the Three act story structure (about five different books that each said the same thing, but they each had different parts of the 3-acted structure they looked at). This is a bit of a read, but here it is.

    Before I even start an outline I do something called the the L.O.C.K.S method. Lead. Objective. Conflict. Knockout. Situation (this last one is optional).

    Here is the current logline I have for my current story: Eighteen years after witnessing her mother's murder (Situation), Bartlett Cloverfield, A bi-sexual ballet dancer that has Empathic Synesthesia (Lead character), returns home to learn the truth about her mother's murder. (Objective). But as she investigates into the past, a monstrous figure begins to stalk her (conflict.) Will Bartlett learn the truth about her mother's death? Or will Bartlett fall victim to the figure that stalks her? (This is the knockout. You present her victory and her defeat.)

    Once I have the logline figured out I think of the climax of the story first. The climax is where your character learns a truth or makes a decision that will forever leave them as a different person. For me, the climax is Bartlett learning the truth. After you have the climax figured out (and take your time with this, the climax is meant to be the best moment of your story) I look at my midpoint.

    If I have a positive(ish) Climax, then I have to have a positive(ish) Midpoint. If I have a negative climax (like your character dies) then I'd have to have a negative midpoint. The midpoint is the second most important scene in the story, and in some regards reflects the climax of your story.

    So your midpoint will also determine a scene in your story called 'The All is Lost moment.' This scene takes place about 70%-75% into your story. If your midpoint is positive, The all is lost scene is negative. If the midpoint is Negative then the All lost scene is positive. The purpose of the All is lost moment is something happens that forces your character to make a decision that puts them into Act III.

    The next parts I look at are the Break into Act II, and Break into Act III scenes. In short, Break into Act II is where your character makes a decision that sets them off on their adventure (this is different than the call to action/inciting event. I'll get to that last.) Your Break into Act III is where your character makes a decision to face the Big bad of your story.

    The last scene I look at is the inciting event. This is the scene that forces your character to make the Break into Act II decision in the first place. Also, remember the climax? The climax has to happen because of the inciting event. Let's look at the movie 'Taken' to give you a clear picture of what I mean. The climax of the story is that the hero rescues his daughter. The inciting event is that his daughter was kidnapped. See how one leads into the other?

    Once I have these scene figured out, I start brainstorming about events that occur between each major point. I personally have 60 scenes in total for my story. 10 in Act I, 20 in Act II before the midpoint, 20 in Act II after the midpoint, and 10 in Act III.

    There is a lot more complexity to what I do when I plan out than what I've given here, but this is a good skeleton method to get your minding churning out ideas. I want to stress something, ultimately everyone has their own methods and designs when they build their story. As a writer, it will be your responsibility to come up with your own system of writing, from structure, to style, to narrative mode, to use of language, to subject matter, to even the depth of your story. The best advice I can really give you is this: try a little of everything and see what works for you and what doesn't.

    I wish you the best of luck,

    -Ory James Berner.
     

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