December 13th, 2012

  • mbarker

Writing Excuses 7.50: Outlining the Mary Way

Writing Excuses 7.50: Outlining the Mary Way


Key Points: Think of the outline as a roadmap, that helps you determine the overall shape of the novel. Think of writing as a series of layers, including thumbnail sketch, rough sketch (synopsis), and underpainting (outline). On top of all that is the painting, the actual writing of the novel.Bullet point, sentence, paragraph -- break it apart and flesh it out. Look for the scenes you need to get from point B to point E, the consequences or scene-sequel. Check that each scene advances the plot, develops character and setting. Add specificity as needed. Chapters, and pacing, are the last step in the process. Use chapter breaks to build tension and keep the reader going. If you have multiple POV, add another pass after the scene breakdown. Who has the most at stake in any particular scene? Adjust motivations or add stakes to shift POV if necessary. If when you are writing, you want to change, take a look at the outline and see what else needs to shift. Then if it works, make the changes in the outline and do it! Doing this pre-work takes time, but then the writing goes quickly. Feel free to make adjustments.
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[Brandon] Okay. All right. Well, that was very well done. Thank you very much, Mary. Our writing prompt this week... Let's force you... Oh. Howard. Go ahead.
[Howard] Oh. Sorry. I was... I wasn't going to do anything having to do with the outlining.
[Brandon] No, that's okay.
[Howard] I was going to go terminological. Give us a magic system in which the thumbnail, the underpainting, and the imagery that goes on top of it are somehow magical.
[Brandon] Okay. Magical underpainting.
[Howard] Maybe you're using paint, maybe you're drawing in the air, I don't know. But take that layered concept and turn it into magic.
[Brandon] All right. Thanks for listening. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.

[Brandon] Hi, all. This is Brandon. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. I just wanted to give you a special reminder. Audible has my novella, Legion, up for free in audiobook. So since they're a sponsor of the podcast, I thought I'd give an extra shout out. They actually have, if you go to, they have Legion up there. You... there's no trial, there's no strings attached, you just get it for free. So I hope you guys go give it a listen if you haven't already. You can go to to download it and give it a try.
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