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Re: Plot outlines

Posted: October 29th, 2010, 11:24 pm
by GeeGee55
Interesting thread. I worked on-line with a great Amercian writer through a mentorship program who told me there is no template for good writing. Get it out of your head that you can just plug some information into an outline and it's going to work. At some point, I think everyone has to outline to try and figure out where the story is going, but I write first and then outline - make sure the time passes in a way that makes sense, etc.

When I was learning to write in scenes the idea that helped me more than any other was that a scene should progress in this manner:


It doesn't matter what the conflict is, external or internal, but it's got to be there to create tension and drive the story forward.

Re: Plot outlines

Posted: October 30th, 2010, 11:14 am
by polymath
When an inspiration strikes me, if it's good to go, I write it out. If I stall, I start into preplanning and use a simple template, inciting crisis, tragic crisis, final crisis. If that don't work, I dig deeper, complication and purpose, cause and effect, empathy and suspense. And deeper still, theme and motifs, message, outcomes, what if instead of this then that. More involved outlining comes next, bubble mapping, shotgun writing, and still more involved outlining up to the complex one I outlined before. If I stall again, I do more research and development, topically and writing-wise. If I can't move past a roadblock, I sideline the project and work on another; meanwhile, sidelined projects keep kicking around in the back of my mind. Something's gotta give eventually. The one I'm working on right now is moving forward. It's got to, or else.

Re: Plot outlines

Posted: November 1st, 2010, 5:54 am
by Steppe
Dear P.
A very useful/great example. I follow the "N" usage as assign a number and the ditto referencing specifically the particular ( a. ) above depending on whether one is in the first act. I wasn't sure if the ( F - G - F - H ) assignment was a deliberate desire to perceive a small tightening infinite loop around the *tragic crisis* break point of the story or a simple typo. It works either way for me. I made a nice little (.Doc) of the examples with some of the smaller overviews juxtaposed in a two column format side by side. Then I'll print it into Adobe Acrobat to finalize.

I'm finishing the two final acts of a six act stretching of the 3-act form. Vastly premised battle a overall partial world destroying partial world rebuilding based on a three tier world (similar to Zelda slightly). The outline shall be very useful for the final rewrites and edits after the magor draft components are finished. 1500 pages and three full books. Old school format its still only 750 pages and should end before running a leg race with WAR & PEACE.

Good to pop this thread back topside as people are beginning their Nano projects. Great stuff

Re: Plot outlines

Posted: November 1st, 2010, 10:39 am
by polymath
Cool, Steppe,

Yeah, the F, G, F, H is a typo. Another of infinite reminders I need a copyeditor to check my work. I fixed it in case anyone's copy and pasting for posterity. Yes, the N eguals number of scenes and ditto is for the sequence above.

I stalled in preplanning a project that's on deadline recently. I trotted out the simple template and overlayed what I had on it. I had a good opening and middle but the ending I had fit the tragic crisis better than the final crisis. The middle sagged as a result. A few more questions asked and answered and I had a new and more powerful ending. The project is moving forward again. After drafting, I'l run it by the bullet format outline and see if it rings like a bell. Longer projects I start with the bullet outline.

Re: Plot outlines

Posted: November 1st, 2010, 3:01 pm
by Steppe
I believe I'm ready to finish the story but the stalling payed off because certain supporting characters I really enjoyed writing have a lot of subtext suggesting they are going to get the just deserts because of long held partially revealed debts. So I hope to avoid that effect of the tragic mid conflict overwhelming the cataclysmic ending and the overdue redemption of the protagonist and loyal cohorts. Thanks again.

Re: Plot outlines

Posted: December 3rd, 2010, 3:43 pm
by PhilipIsles
I just posted my worksheet in the synopsis/outline section here

Re: Plot outlines

Posted: December 3rd, 2010, 5:02 pm
by CharleeVale
I think I have an issue, I pretty much physically can't outline. Not only am I gloriously bad at it, but I'll sit down and try, and nothing will come. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

Then I'll start working on a scene, and the words come for hours. The plot writes itself out without my forcing it.

Oh well.


Re: Plot outlines

Posted: December 12th, 2010, 4:16 pm
by PhilipIsles
I thought I'd pass around the manuscript word count tool I use when trying to estimate how long my total manuscript is. Some might say pouring over these numbers is totally silly, but I can't help myself.

You need an outline to make it work--you input your word counts for what you have completed so far, your outline, and number of words in your outline that have been turned into actual manuscript pages.

You can download the actual file on my website.
Hope you get a kick out of it :)