Plot Clinic Outline

I needed a break from reading my own squished, squiggled, handwriting doing type-in on The Ruby Key, so I took about half an hour and outlined the plot clinic. I know this isn’t going to make huge amounts of sense in this form. Each outline entry below, though, will have explanations, an example, and an exercise, and in the process we’ll go through, I’ll create a plot from scratch, and so will you.

I’ll deal with each of the three times that you’re plotting: before you write, while you’re writing, and while you’re revising. And I’ll deal with every tool I use while plotting—at least those that I can remember. I’ve written a lot of books, and I might have tried something back in the early years that I dropped along the way.

Anyway, here’s the first draft of the outline:

Plot Clinic Outlineรขโ‚ฌโ€Draft One

Program I’m using to write this is Scrivener. It’s also the program I’m using to revise The Ruby Key. Wrote The Ruby Key using WriteItNow. Will review the Scrivener software when I’m done with the work. And thanks to Kevin, who created the software, I have one free copy of Scrivener to give away. We’ll have a contest or a drawing for that after I’ve finished revisions and income taxes.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

20 comments… add one
  • hollylisle Mar 18, 2007 @ 9:23

    Shawna—It’s a good question. There’s a really long answer, and it’s mostly contained it two posts:

  • shawna Mar 16, 2007 @ 22:16

    Oh. Almost forgot. One of the things I’m curious about, is when one of your stories emulates a real-world political situation, is it something you do on purpose, or something that just sort of happens because it’s on your mind? And if it’s intentional… I’d really like to see how you plot that in. Is it something that you use as a backbone of the story, or something that just sort of fits the situation and you run with it, or ?

  • shawna Mar 16, 2007 @ 22:11

    Licorice isn’t the only one… waiting for a new clinic really makes my internal editor act up.

    *wanders off wishing she had a Mac so she could wish for Scrivener or DevonThink… they both look fantastic. Hm… if wishes were Macs, then we’d all be published?? Just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

  • PolarBear Mar 16, 2007 @ 19:39

    THAT’s what I was trying to think of!

    KAYPROtocerotops! I love it.

  • Katherine Mar 16, 2007 @ 8:32

    DevonThink is worth every penny if you write the kind of research-heavy non-fiction I do. For fiction–with the possible exception of historical or very hard SF–not so much.

  • hollylisle Mar 16, 2007 @ 7:50

    Eep. DevonThink is out of my price range at the moment, but definitely worth looking at eventually.

  • hollylisle Mar 16, 2007 @ 7:45

    Jean—I’m more of a KAYPROtocerotops. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Katherine—I haven’t tried (or even looked at) DevonThink yet. Scrivener is awesome, though.

    And everyone—I’m excited about the Plot Clinic. I started putting it together by typing on index cards and shuffling them around (yay, Scrivener), asking myself the whole time what my plotting process was. It was at the point where I discovered I’m plotting the entire time I’m writing and revising the book that the thing came together for me. That insight, and how I’ll deal with it, makes me think Plot Clinic will be the most universally useful of the clinics I’ve done.

  • Katherine Mar 15, 2007 @ 21:30

    I’m another raving Scrivener fan. What Holly neglected to mention is that you can view the entire outline she posted as index cards, attach chunks of text to them individually, and shuffle them around to your heart’s content. Scrivener plus DevonThink go a long way to justifying a Mac purchase all by themselves.

  • Licorice Riff Raff Mar 15, 2007 @ 21:21

    Looks awesome. Can’t wait ’till it comes out.

    You know, the only problem with the clinics is that I always feel like I can’t write anything until the next one comes out. I need to stop being so anal…

  • BJSteeves Mar 15, 2007 @ 20:05

    Oh-Boy! Another clinic e-book to add to my collection!!!!

  • LadyQ Mar 15, 2007 @ 19:09

    This book sounds great!

  • michele_lang Mar 15, 2007 @ 18:53

    I am so getting this book! Plotting is my achilles’ heel (I almost wrote achilles hell ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    I’m excited to read this…thank you for sharing your hard won secrets with us

    Michele

  • MattScudder Mar 15, 2007 @ 18:49

    Wow. This looks like EXACTLY what I need. Especially the plotting while revising, as I am just about done with the latest and I want to beat my plot into submission.

  • PolarBear Mar 15, 2007 @ 18:20

    A black screen with amber type? Horrors! Does this mean you’re a “DECasaurus”? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • hollylisle Mar 15, 2007 @ 10:47

    No such thing as a pre-order. The store software will only permit me to sell existing products—which is good. It gives me enormous incentive to finish things. ๐Ÿ˜€

    I’m loving Scrivener, by the way. It has a fully configurable full-screen mode that blacks out everything on the desktop except for the writing, which, distractable creature that I am, has proven the best thing for productivity since unitasking 8088s and the days before the internet. I’m writing on a black screen with amber type, and it’s like going home. More on the yumminess of Scrivener later, though.

  • PJ Mar 15, 2007 @ 10:40

    I’m with Nienke – is there a pre-order? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Scrivener looks interesting – I’ll be interested in hearing your opinion.

  • heather Mar 15, 2007 @ 10:26

    Scrivener looks very cool. I am bummed it’s not available for PC, though!

  • shawna Mar 15, 2007 @ 10:03

    … and I just realized why I haven’t tried that one, even though it looked familiar. I’m Mac-less.

  • shawna Mar 15, 2007 @ 10:01

    It makes enough sense to me that I wish it was written already… ๐Ÿ™‚

    My favorite form of procrastination is playing with new software…

  • nienke Mar 15, 2007 @ 9:56

    I am so excited about this book. Can we pre-order? Also look forward to the discussion on software. I’m enjoying Liquid Story Binder.

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