1. Published on Amazon? If you have a book, e-book, or audiobook available on Amazon.com, we'll promote it on WritingForums.org for free. Simply add your book to our Member Publications section. Add your book here or read the full announcement.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Dismiss Notice
  1. Rimbo

    Rimbo New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK

    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

    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    12,143
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    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

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    9,109
    Likes Received:
    5,439
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I charge right in and write. Outlines be damned! The first draft becomes the "outline" for future drafts.
     
  4. Gigi_GNR

    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    12,143
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    That's usually what I do too. Only when I plan pretty far ahead and think I'll forget do I outline.
     
  5. MrNomas

    MrNomas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Perth, Australia
    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

    AmyHolt Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2011
    Messages:
    475
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Warsaw, IN
    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

    Declan Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2011
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    England
    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

    benfromcanada Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    0
    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

    Marranda Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    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

    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Sarpsborg, Norway
    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

    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Messages:
    680
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    USA
    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

    Rimbo New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    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

    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    12,143
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Good luck with your writing. :)
     
  14. tristan.n

    tristan.n Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2010
    Messages:
    290
    Likes Received:
    29
    Location:
    Overland Park, KS
    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

    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,211
    Likes Received:
    43
    Location:
    UK
    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.
     

Share This Page