Archive for April, 2015

This is something we need to think long and hard about as people, not just as parents!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Hyperbole and a Half Image via Hyperbole and a Half

It has been a weird couple of months. We had our family business move and then Spawn (my 5 year old) was REALLY ill back in March. Ill to the point of a middle of the night ER visit. Hubby and I didn’t sleep for over a month. And now, I am trying to get back in the groove and I just don’t want to.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 9.16.29 AM

I don’t want to be a grownup. I want to color and make a blanket fort. And YES I feel guilty for being a horrible wife and a bad mother.

On some level, I believe all women struggle with guilt, and, when we become mothers, I think the condition only worsens. I was a very different person before I married and had my son. I was always dressed impeccably, had my hair done once a month, and never missed…

View original post 1,806 more words

Our guest post today is from Chris Andrews. He’s going to teach me how to outline the easy way. His approach to writing is amazing and his books are truly works of art! So, here we go!

Displaying Guide-to-Outlining-Small.png

Hate outlining? You’re not alone, but there’s two simple things you can do to make it easier.

Be careful though!

You might just be creating a better story.

Part 1

Work out what your story’s about in a very general way. Write down:

  • Who it’s about
  • What they want
  • What or who’s preventing them from getting it.

I’ve created an in-depth post on this subject if you want to do the exercise properly, but for now these three steps will do. (I’ve included the link at the bottom if you’re interested in the full exercise.)

The purpose of doing this is to guide you in creating your outline. It’s your story’s premise, and as a premise it needs simplicity.

This is because it’s far easier to create an outline when you know where the story’s going, even generally.

Consider these three points as an example:

  • It’s about a farm boy
  • He’s trying to take the plans for an ultimate weapon to a group of rebels
  • The evil empire’s minions are trying to stop him.

Now, massage your own three bullet points into a sentence like this: A farm boy has to take stolen plans to a group of rebels in order to help them destroy an evil empire’s ultimate weapon of tyranny and destruction.

Simple. Not easy, but simple.

Part 2

Take an A4 sheet of paper and turn it sideways (landscape), or use a whiteboard if you have one.

Write your sentence across the top to give your outline clarity and focus.

Now draw a line down the middle, another to the right and one more to the left, all equally spaced to create four even columns.

Next, draw a horizontal line across the middle.

This will give you eight boxes. Four across the top, four across the bottom. It should look something like this:

A farm boy has to take stolen plans to a group of rebels in order to help them destroy an evil empire’s ultimate weapon of tyranny and destruction.
     

Now create these headings:

  • At the top of the first column write Setup. Underline it.
  • At the top of the second column, write Adventure Begins. Underline it.
  • At the top of the third column, write Things Get Serious. Underline it.
  • At the top of the fourth column, write Resolution. Underline it.

It should now look like this:

A farm boy has to take stolen plans to a group of rebels in order to help them destroy an evil empire’s ultimate weapon of tyranny and destruction.
Setup Adventure Begins Things Get Serious Resolution
       

These are your headings, and they mean what they say.

Next:

  • Under Setup, write Sequence 1. In the box below it, write Sequence 2.
  • Under Adventure Begins, write Sequence 3. In the box below it, write Sequence 4, etc…

Your outline should now look like this:

A farm boy has to take stolen plans to a group of rebels in order to help them destroy an evil empire’s ultimate weapon of tyranny and destruction.
Setup

Sequence 1:

Adventure Begins

Sequence 3:

 

Things Get Serious

Sequence 5:

Resolution

Sequence 7:

Sequence 2: Sequence 4: Sequence 6: Sequence 8:

You’ll want at least two sequences per quarter, but if you’re planning on a particularly long story you might want an extra row for a total of twelve sequences (1,2,3 under setup, 4,5,6 under Adventure Begins, etc.).

A bigger story might need sixteen or more.

It’s your call, but always ensure you have an even number of sequences in each box.

Now give each sequence a name.

A farm boy has to take stolen plans to a group of rebels in order to help them destroy an evil empire’s ultimate weapon of tyranny and destruction.
Setup

Sequence 1: How the Droids come to Luke

Adventure Begins

Sequence 3: Luke learns how cool The Force is while recruiting help

Things Get Serious

Sequence 5: Luke Rescues Princess Leia

Resolution

Sequence 7: Luke volunteers as an X-wing pilot

Sequence 2: How Luke Meets Obi-Wan Sequence 4: Luke escapes Mos Eisley Sequence 6: Luke Escapes the Death Star Sequence 8: Luke destroys the Death Star

In your story, these sequences will create story arcs dealing with groups of chapters.

Now, under each sequence, write some bullet points depicting a series of events or scenes that will fill out each sequence. Include a consequence for each one.

For example:

A farm boy has to take stolen plans to a group of rebels in order to help them destroy an evil empire’s ultimate weapon of tyranny and destruction.
Setup

Sequence 1: How the Droids come to Luke

·    The Empire attacks Princess Leia’s ship

o Princess Leia sends R2D2 to find Obi-Wan

·    R2D2 and C3PO land on Tatooine

o They get captured by Jawas

·    Luke’s uncle buys R2D2 and C3PO

o  R2D2 runs away to find Obi-Wan

Adventure Begins

Sequence 3: Luke learns how cool The Force is while recruiting help

·

o

·

o

·

o

Things Get Serious

Sequence 5: Luke Rescues Princess Leia

·

o

·

o

·

o

Resolution

Sequence 7: Luke volunteers for the Rebellion

·

o

·

o

·

o

Sequence 2: How Luke Meets Obi-Wan

·     Luke gets attacked by sand people…

o

·

o

·

o

Sequence 4: Luke escapes Mos Eisley

·

o

·

o

·

o

Sequence 6: Luke Escapes the Death Star

·

o

·

o

·

o

Sequence 8: Luke destroys the Death Star

·

o

·

o

·

o

Try to remember you’re creating broad strokes, and you can add as much detail and as many sub-plots as you like – later. But not now.

Also, remember to follow the column headings. The first column is all about setting up the characters and story, and your bullet points will need to reflect that.

Initially, write three major points per sequence along with their consequences, with the goal to move logically from one to the next.

When you’re done you can add further details if you’re inclined, but your broad outline’s complete. Easy!

It does a bit of effort to get everything flowing nicely, but the concept is quite simple and will give your story logic and balance.

It can even be applied retroactively as a means of troubleshooting story problems.

Try filling in the rest of the example I’ve provided to get a feel for the concept, and then apply the same reasoning to your own story.

You’ll be amazed at how well it works.

As promised, here’s the link to the (full) first part of this exercise. It’s called Know Your Story – The Premise, and it actually has four steps instead of the three I’ve included here – every premise needs a hook.

About Chris:

Displaying Chris-Medium.jpg

Chris Andrews is a writer and blogger, and the owner of Creative Manuscript Services. His literary agent is currently negotiating contracts with a publisher for his four-book epic fantasy saga. CMS is giving away a Structural Analysis Report to one lucky person, which requires a completed outline and as much detail as you can manage. Anyone can enter – and now you have the means!

Well, that is the easiest-ever guide to story outlining, wasn’t it? Alright, leave me your opinion, question or comment, then go outline your story! Who knows, maybe you’ll win!