Part Two? Yes, this is part two of me detailing how I plan and write my novels. If you missed “Planning That Novel: Part One” you’ll be able to find a link at the bottom of the page, I hope. I have to admit I’m still horrible at adding hyperlinks.
Once this unorganized piece of the outline is done, I smooth out the wrinkles by laying everything in the Map Traveled a little differently. I call this part of the process the Map Traveled Outline. “What’s the difference?” you ask. Well, the Map Traveled Outline compared to the Map Traveled is different in layout and coherency. I take everything I planned out and polish up what happens in each Part or Act as well as place the major plot points more firmly within each Part/Act.
Not only do I divide the story into three different parts, but I then divide each Part into a Beginning, Middle, and End. Within each of those is where the major plot pints get placed according to what I have determined to happen in the sections (Beginning, Middle, End)
This part of the planning process takes a great many days and never quite ceases in it’s construction as the novel gets further planned and written. being able to dictate what happens in each Part and then in each section takes knowing how you want your novel to end and how you plan to get from point A all the way to pint Z; the end.
As I’ve described in “Planning That Novel: Part One”, I plan out all the major plot points before any of the Map Traveled Outline happens so once I get to this step I know more or less what will be occurring in each Part and then each section.
First thing, I do a brief synopsis of each Part: Part I detailing the main problem the character’s set out to solve, Part II detailing how they triumph and/or failed in their attempts when trying to complete Part I, and Part III detailing how they overcame or caved into the pressures and new problems of Part II.
Once I have all Parts mapped, I go back and detail fully what the characters go through by way of “sections”. The beginning introduces the set up for what I had foreseen in the detailing of Part I on through to the end, that shows a resolution to Part I and the set up to everything the characters will face in Part II. The sections for Part II keep the same traditions into Part III and depending on the story ending and the life beyond the story, how Part III will begin and eventually come to a complete resolution or cliffhanger.
I understand it may be a little confusing, but this works for me and I’ve found it to be extremely helpful in getting the plot to flow smoothly from Part to section, section to section, and section to Part. Within each section, as you can see, is where the major plot points get placed accordingly.
After the Map Traveled Outline is divided into the Parts, each Part divided into three sections, and each section has been assigned their plot points I take planning the novel slightly further. I call this next set the Skeleton Outline. The Skeleton Outline is a way for me to detail what will happen from plot point to plot point, while keeping true to what I had already dictated for the story through the Parts and Sections depictions. Keep in mind that the plot points are not chapters. From my first plot point to my second I have six chapters already written. It’s hard for me to rightly describe to you what the Skeleton Outline is. This is something I made up for myself. As far as I’ve seen I have not come across someone else’s work that does this. The Skeleton Outline is almost as if you took the first plot point and added sub points, and then added sub- sub points, and then added sub- sub- sub points, then so on and so forth. However, it’s not structurally dominated over in that sense. The Skeleton Outline has more room for how you want to show points and sub-points, and side thoughts to those sub-points…
Think of it as taking each thought, each action, spoken words, scenery the characters use and go through in a bullet point formation. This is almost like writing the story, but without the finesse of stringing sentences, paragraphs, pictures and warmth into the story as actually writing the story would have you do. This is all that the characters will say, think, do or might say think or do. You can show what it might be like for them if they take the road or decide to take a path through the woods. The Skeleton Outline is not something that someone wanting to read the story should ever see.
Now unlike with the Map Traveled and the Map Traveled Outline, the Skeleton Outline never stops evolving, changing, and growing. I outline just far enough to get me through the next few chapters and then I continue the Skeleton Outline until I have enough material to write the next three chapters or so. I don’t let the chapters dictate how the Skeleton Outline turns out to be nor do I let the Skeleton Outline dictate the chapters. The Skeleton Outline is purely there to get me and my characters from one major plot point to another.
My methods are long and a little crazy! But they are effective. At least they have been working well for me so far.