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fleshing out a story - how to do an outline

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I'm fleshing out a story and I wanted to pop all the info into a nice and neat (ha) outline...are there any templates on how to start an outline? how should one start one? I'm doing a novel and got most of it all over the place on paper and some in the 'puter... want to get it all down and placed in order so I can start typing away. I'm excited to get started!!!
post #2 of 5
the best advice i found on organising a novel came from carolyn see's book on writing, which is something like "advice to writers and other dreamers." i always forget the title.

at first, she says, you read your entire MS and make notes on what you have and what you need to have. something like:

I have: p.2 Shirley meets Bill.
I need : Who's Bill?

I have: p. 5 Shirley gets drunk in Florida
I need: How did she get there?

after you are done with this, and fixed all your holes, you physically arrange your novel on some large surface, in little piles of chapters or scenes, and re-arrange if necessary.

so if your MS is not typed up yet, maybe the first step is to type all of it. let it sit for a couple of weeks. read it, and without making any corrections, make all the notes (what you have, what you need). then fix whatever needs fixing.

check her book out, i found it extremely helpful, funny, and encouraging.
post #3 of 5
There are software programs to help, some of which you can find demos for - if you google novel writing software, you will find some good sites - I think www.write-brain.com is one that I have downloaded demos from before.

The other way I do it is just on paper (or in a word doc) and start with my story question, and put down the beginning and the ending... and then start question what happens to get from point A to point B. Much like the PP mentioned, as my plot points start to develop, I am then faced with the who, what, when, where, why, how questions.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
thanks for the advice! I have about 4 different outlines/timelines typed out and about 3 more hand written. I'm still trying to figure out the sequence of when I want facts to appear and if I want flashbacks or not. I just love flashbacks, keeps facts unknown and the reader questioning and guessing. But then, how many flashbacks and how long can they be? Or should I use one as a prologue? I know I'll answer all these questions eventually, but those are my questions right now.

so I'm going to download one and use it so I only have one outline/timeline to refer to - thanks for the advice!
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
I looked at and downloaded the "Power Writer" demo and I really like it, although I'm sure I'll have to purchase it when the demo is over. How much is it? I can't tell from the website.

Also, is there any free versions of something similar out there? I saw a few 'online' freeware, but I'm very skeptical about saving and storing a novel online. Don't you think that would be very unsafe?
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