Friday, October 8, 2010

My Outlining Process

What to write and when to write it? All in the name of a good story. This is where I had a difficult time. There are so many things to take into consideration.

How long do you want the story to be?

What types of encounters do you want to include?

From start to finish, how long does the story take?

These were all my main questions when I wrote my first draft of my outline. I thought without one I would surely fail. I worried over an outline that was so in detail it went on for pages and pages. Then I scrapped it halfway through the writing process to create a smaller, less detailed, outline. I rewrote my entire outline after finishing the story. I decided that after all of that I wasn't as happy with what I had written as I had hoped to be.

That was when I read "Story" by Robert McKee. That's when I had to take into consideration the positive and negative charges of scenes (or chapters). I had never thought about this. Or thought about the many other terms and guidelines he lays out in his book.

I redid my outline.

Instead of my story taking place over several months it now takes place over only a few weeks. This prompted me to take out the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas scenes.

Instead of writing out my outline on my computer I carried around note cards for several days. Each chapter (or scene) goes on a separate note card. If the first chapter starts out positive, it ends negative. As a result the second chapter must start out negative and end positive. I continue with this up/down method until I get to the end. The stakes get more difficult as I go. In a way the noose gets tighter around the protagonists neck as the story progresses until finally she overcomes the hurdle of the story.

Then as I write I use the note cards to make sure I have hit all the points I want to hit. To make sure that the positive/negative charges fluctuate throughout the story. So far I am halfway through my story and this note card method is working great.

I also have yet another story I am working on without using an outline at all. I have decided to use Blake Snyder's "Beat Sheet" and fill it in as I go. It's a bit scary, but I am determined to see where it takes me.

How do you outline?

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