Monday, October 1, 2012

Outlining Your Book and Re-Writing

The following is taken from a lecture by Elana Johnson, who in turn used information from Blake Snyder's Save the Cat.

1. Beat Sheet       2. Write Novel         3. Board it Out          4. Revise                   

1. Beat Sheet 
Start out by printing out a "Beat Sheet."  Then just fill-out the following 5 major beats:

     1) The Opening Image
     2) The Closing Image
     3)  The Midpoint
     4)  Break Into 2
     5)  Break Into 3

Just fill in a couple of sentences that briefly describe what you have in mind for each beat.

2. Write Novel
Write the book. Experiment, let things grow organically. Work toward the Midpoint and the breaks. You don't need to necessarily outline any scenes (unless you want to) or fill out character worksheets or anything similar.

3. Board it Out
Once the first draft is complete, there will be problems - it's a first draft after all. This is the point at which you need to story board your novel.  Fill out 15 cards (one for each beat). Go through your story and identify key scenes that represent each beat. You may also want to put page numbers on the cards so you get a feel for where they are falling. Put all these cards up in order on a board where you can look at it and analyze it.

4. Revise
After identifying weak spots, start your revisions. There will be obvious mistakes - anything from sentence structure issues to holes in your plot. But also be working out your story structure. Ensure that each beat fall in the proper place. Does each one lead up to the next one? Later revisions can then focus on character, word choice, setting, voice, world, etc. But each of these features will be easier to work on if your story had been correctly structured.

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