Outlining

ice-crystal-1065155_1920

Step eight of the Snowflake Method is to break that four page summary down line by line into the scenes needed to tell that story, and turn those into a spreadsheet outline. Use one line from each scene.

Make just one line for each scene. In one column, list the POV character. In another (wide) column, tell what happens. If you want to get fancy, add more columns that tell you how many pages you expect to write for the scene.

Lost? Scrivener does this really well in a nifty setting called Outliner.

I was nervous about doing this part of the snowflake, because I hate spreadsheets. But now that it’s done, I can see how valuable it is as I move into writing the first draft. I did it just like Mr. Ingermanson (the snowflake guy) said. I took each line of the four page synopsis and tried to figure out what kind of scenes were necessary to tell that part of the story. Then I divided up the scenes into chapters and put them in folders labeled chapter 1, 2, 3, ect.

Here’s an example from Book 3 of the Aphrodite trilogy.

Major spoiler warning since book 2 isn’t even out yet.

Here’s a paragraph of the four page outline.

(1)Aphrodite stranded herself on the island of the DAMNED despite being unable to communicate with the gods or having any access to her own powers. She’s fished out of the water by the demigods and thrown into a hospital room with Adonis, presumably for a check up, but there are guards at the door.

Scene wise this breaks down as follows:

Aphrodite finds herself stranded on the island of the DAMNED. I’m going ahead and including her being fished out of the water here rather than the next scene, because the setting changes after she’s fished out of the water, so that’s a natural break.

Scene 2 is her being thrown into a hospital room with Adonis and discovering guards at the door.

Now, I have duel points of view going on, so my second paragraph focuses on my second POV character. Meaning Aphrodite’s scene 1 doesn’t happen first in the book.

Here’s what that looks like in spread sheet form.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 5.02.36 PM

I’ve grouped these two scenes into a chapter. In bold, you have the brief description of the scenes. Beneath that you have the lines from the four page summary summarizing what’s happening in the scene. The next column says who the POV character is for the scene. The next column tells me who is in the scene. Next column is setting, and what day it is in the story. That’s for my benefit, because I need to keep track of my timeline. Scrivener also tells me how many words I’ve written in each scene and what draft I’m in. You may find you need more or less columns based on your style and the demands of the story.

As book 2 goes through edits that impact book 3, it’s easy for me to go through and adjust this outline. I can see it all in a glance, I can make the changes quick and easy, and when I write the actual scenes, I know exactly what needs to happen in each scene.

Now, I’m a discovery writer by nature, so when I’m writing, my characters tend to surprise me. Or I think of some amazing plot gem that changes everything. It’s super easy to click back to the outline and note the adjustments that need to be made and pinpoint any already written scenes that need to be adjusted beyond outline mode.

One thing that is not happening is a major problem I used to have. I’m never opening my word processor and going, “Okay, I know what just happened, and what has to happen in a few chapters, but how do I get there.” I’ve already figured that out, slowly in a painless process. Will it change, absolutely. But I don’t have anymore days just staring and wondering what to write anymore.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s