Write a Plot – Outlining Your Novel.
Let’s take a look at a few classic outlining methods.
The Three-Act Method. Story structure provides the basis for your book. It’s the skeleton into which you breathe the life of your story. That means the foundation for your outline will rest upon that structure. What’s known as the three-act structure is one of the most basic and time-honored approaches. Based upon three major plot points (at the end of the first act, the middle of the second act, and the beginning of the third act), the three-act structure offers outliners the opportunity to fill in as much or as little detail as they want.
The 22-Step Method. In his book The Anatomy of Story, acclaimed film critic John Truby digs deeper into the three-act structure by expanding it to include 22 major requirements within the story. His list of 22 steps can be used as a more specific guide to fleshing out your story.
The Snowflake Method. Randy Ingermanson’s acclaimed Snowflake Method urges writers to begin their outlines small (with a single sentence), then slowly build (to two sentences, then a paragraph, then a page) until they’ve eased their way into the first draft. His method offers step-by-step guidance for creating your story and expanding it.
The Scene-by-Scene Method. One of the most in-depth and intuitive methods of outlining is to write down scene ideas chronologically, building upon them until you’ve explored the entire story. Scene descriptions can be anything from a single sentence to pages of information.
None of these methods are mutually exclusive. You can use them in concert to strengthen each other, or you can pick and choose the elements you like best in each.
The above partial lecture is from the course Outlining Your Novel. The outlining techniques we’ll be exploring throughout the workshop will include elements of all four. Other methods will also be reviewed.