Plot Outline done for Green Magic One

I had a couple folks ask how I would do headers on the plot cards. So I took a picture of the outline view of my plot card outline for Green Magic I.

This is done in Scrivener; your results will look different depending on what you’re using to outline your book. But…

The entire project is in a folder titled (ever so imaginatively) Draft. The working synopsis is the green rectangle beneath it. That holds my short description, main character arc, theme, and cover copy description. Then I have my character list–each character has a short description that I can roll over at any time with my cursor, so that the names of my folks are in front of me all the time, plus pertinent details about their appearances, jobs, etc.

Following that is the title, and then the book divided into three beats. It alsol follows Three-Act Structure, but you’ll see that the actual acts, Gathering the Players, Intensifying the Situation, and Resolving the Conflict, do not land at the same place as the story beats.

At the far left of every other title, C[#] marks off each chapter (you can see I’m doing two scenes per chapter), each card has a title that cues me in to what the main action of that scene will be, and the necessary word count I have to hit to come in on deadline at length, and within the specifications for the book. This is a line romance with a requirement for 60%-40% heroine-hero viewpoints. Having the cards marked off this way will keep me on track.

Plot Card Rollover View--image smaller than actual sizeI can see the contents of each card as I roll the cursor over it, preventing me from ever having to click back into the plot-cards working view, but keeping all that information at my fingertips. Plot card corkboard viewHere’s the corkboard with card in place for comparison purposes.

The information in the body of each card is the character POV for each scene and the scene’s main action.

Finally, here’s the titles-only view that I see as I’m actually writing the book. (All of the cards are drag-and-drop, too, to make in-progress revision simple.

And to the cries of “Where’s the creativity in the midst of all that structure…” well, I like to write sonnets, too. It’s the same process. You learn the rules, you integrate the rules, and then you see just how far outside the envelope you can push you can push your content without breaking the entire structure.

Plot Outline Green Magic I
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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.

8 comments… add one
  • anders Jul 11, 2007 @ 14:19

    Fascinating to see how you’ve taken advantage of Scrivener’s features. My own method is much simpler, with “Draft” holding just the draft and a separate “Querying and Co.” section holding submission records, query template, and synopsis. There’s also a “Crits” section where I’ve organized comments from my beta readers.

    The “status” feature has proved enormously helpful to me in keeping track of how far I’ve gone in implementing crit suggestions and my own revisions with regards to each chapter. (I just do one chapter per outline point, without too much worry over scenes.) And “labels” allow me to vent at some of the … ahem … less constructive of the criticisms, by organizing chapter crits from different people into “mostly helpful,” “somewhat helpful,” and “a menace to your writing.”

    And I’m lazy enough that for outline-point synopses, I just click the three dots in the “synopsis” pane of the Inspector, which fills the notecard with the first paragraph or two of text from the chapter. 🙂

  • hollylisle Jul 10, 2007 @ 15:46

    BTW, I use notebooks. I have scads of them–generally, a cheap ringbound notebook for scribbling in, and then the binder that I build for keeper material. I don’t answer all questions for every character. I answer a few questions for the character I’m writing, and then a few questions for the next character I’m writing. Any time I get stuck, I ask more questions.

  • MattScudder Jul 9, 2007 @ 20:10

    Cool. Thanks, Holly.

  • hollylisle Jul 9, 2007 @ 19:21

    I’ve been doing this so long, I do my questions in my head. Answers, I put on the page in outline form.

  • MattScudder Jul 8, 2007 @ 10:42

    I don’t know if you look back at old comments, but I’m looking at this and wondering where you put all your questions and answers that you do for the characters. Is that something you do on notebook paper or another document? And do you answer questions for ALL those characters?

  • hollylisle May 3, 2007 @ 18:00

    Tomorrow being Friday Snippets, I’ll do “Out of the cage” as a snippet tomorrow.

  • MerylF May 3, 2007 @ 17:50

    Wow. Makes me wish I had a mac 😉 I’m dying to read it already!

  • MattScudder May 3, 2007 @ 16:37

    Wow. This is so cool. You are the plot master.

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