NaNoPreMo 2013 – Outline

a basic outline form

a basic outline form

This is the fourth and final part of a series about preparing for NaNoWriMo. If you like to fly without a map, then I wish you safe travels and I will see you in December.

I’ve mentioned before that I am trying to be more efficient in my writing, and to me this means outlining. The goal with this November’s novel is to have the story nailed down before I start so that subsequent editing won’t be of the “how do I turn this into an actual narrative?” variety. Or at least not so much.

There are all sorts of outlines. I have used a broad outline for all my NaNoWriMo efforts, using chapter summaries to guide what I am going to write. The general structure of these outlines has been to give a starting state, a desired end state, who’s involved, and events that need to happen on the way.

Outlines can be simpler than that: a list of the turning points in the story, for example. The outlining workshop at Wordstock this year mentioned the idea of a W outline, which I thought was a nice reduction of the turning points to their diagrammatic essence:

  • left upper point of the W is the inciting incident
  • left lower point is the first crisis
  • middle high point is the “I know how to fix this” scene, or the fake resolution
  • right lower point is the darkest point for the protagonist, the moment of deepest crisis (also, if you’re going to start in media res, this is a good point to start the narrative and then do flashback to the beginnings of the story)
  • right upper point is the actual climax and resolution

For my outline this year, I have a number of turning points and crises for the protagonist and I am going to break down the specifics of what happens, in two areas:

  1. the transition from one crisis to the next
  2. the details of the resolution of each crisis

Between that and the character network, I feel like I should have a pretty good handle on having a complete story by the end of the month.

Do you have an outline, or any structure at all for your story?

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