Monday, September 6, 2010

Outlining 201

Welcome back aspiring outliners! So we covered ACT I in last weeks post and now we are moving on :)

IF you are new to my series I fondly refer to as "Outlining for Dummies," go back and read my first post about making a timeline and splitting it into 3 acts.

After I broke ACT I into 15 chapters (according to Elana's rough breakdown), I needed to break ACT II into 20 chapters. This seemed daunting but I had followed her instructions and ended ACT I with a bang so that made the beginning of ACT II a *reaction* to the big bang. And, I also knew that the end of ACT II is where the CLIMAX of the entire book lies, so I basically had to go from big bang to climax, which is a steep hill of action and emotion.

This post will help tremendously in learning about what you need to include in this section. And it's so informative that it is has a part two, * found here*.

The above posts are written by Alexandra Sokoloff, a screenwriter who brilliantly describes things in the second Act like The Midpoint:


In the second half of the second act the actions your hero/ine takes toward his or her goal will become larger and increasingly obsessive. Small actions have not cut it, so it’s time for desperate measures.

So, for now, try to write a few skeletal sentences about all 20 chapters in your second act. You can do it! Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

After you finish that, I want you to do the same thing for Act III. Here is Alexandra's breakdown of writing this act. It too has a second part, and should be comprised of approx 15 chapters.

Whew! Now, after you have done all that, you may think you are done, but Robin Mellom and Sherrie Peterson have given me some extra cool tips I will share with you later this week.

Happy Outlining!


P.S. I have had several people ask me how on earth I wrote a novel withOUT an outline and all I can tell you is it felt like solving the number puzzle pictured above. I slipped and slid chapters and scenes around until they all fit just so. It was a marvelous time in my creative life, but as someone once said, "All good things must come to an end."



salarsenッ said...

Wonderful post and thanks for all the links. I, too, started out with no outline, sliding scenes and chapters around. This third time around, I'm attempting to outline.

Enjoy your day.

Christine Fonseca said...

Dude..nice post. Being a planner, I LOVE outlining! I even REOUTLINE from time to time!

Tessa Conte said...

Useful post! I'm mostly a pantser but occasionally I do outline... no re-outlining here, though ; P

Shannon O'Donnell said...

What an awesome post! Wow. There is so much great stuff in there. Thanks for all the links! :-)

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent links, Katie! And dude, EVERY novel I write has NO outline. I just sit down and go for it. It's usually a train wreck, but at least the basic story is out of my head. Then I can fix it to what it should be. Or something. :)

reading. writing. revolution. said...

Not to put down this approach, as it's the normal one that people read about or learn about on blogs or in classes or from books on writing, but while I started out trying to work things out this way, eventually I just threw it all out and got to writing.

I originally had the book broken into five acts, but since I was working with six different characters doing their own things with their own trials and tribulations, I couldn't approach it with this formula.

I'm not saying this system doesn't work; I'm just saying it's not for everyone, and sometimes you just have to strap in and go.

Hardygirl said...

Yikes!! Okay, so now my head is swimming. I think I need to go back to picture books.


Laura Pauling said...

I love Alex Sokoloff's blog. It's the best go to when it comes to outlining or revision! Her breakdowns are awesome!

Katie said...

Thanks guys! So glad to hear from other peeps about this.

It's a struggle, alright and sometimes I feel like Reading, Writing, Revolution, but I am attempting to learn how to do it, should I need to in the future :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

Okay, the funny thing is, the one novel I did an outline for, is the one I never finished writing. Hmmm...

Lola Sharp said...

AWESOME post. I'm not an outliner, it gives me shudders. BUT this winging it style I so adore leads to me slogging through months of Revision Hell.
So, I aspire to learn to be an outliner, in hopes that future MSs aren't so in need of repair as my last 3.

I'll be rereading this series and the links. Thanks. :)


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