OUTLINING WITH NOTE CARDS 4: THE OUTLINE ITSELF

If you haven’t been following along with this exercise in using note cards to plot/outline a novel, go back at least to here and catch up.

This next step is what Holly Lisle recommended doing after I’ve got my note cards in the order I wanted them. This is the text retyped directly from the note cards, in their entirety, in order. With this I’m fully taking the plunge to sort of “live Tweet” the whole process of outlining this book, fleshing out the characters, expanding the worldbuilding from the initial short story, then writing the thing (in rough short, bad form at least) next month for NaNoWriMo.

One thing I added was to arrange the chapters into three acts. I have a little trouble fully divorcing myself from Aristotle on that score at least.

Without further ado, then, I give you the outline for . . .

 

Bella Lucky and the Monsters of Methone

Target: 50,000 words, 2500 words/chapter

 

CHARACTERS:

Bella Lucky (F)

“fighter”

hero/primary POV (10 scenes)

Niu Fu Ian (F)

“cleric”

bio-tech expert/doctor

THE TRAITOR/VILLAIN

Asian, Saturnian

6 POV scenes

Stas Zalevsky (M)

“magic-user”

tech expert, but not “geek”

the handsome guy, kind of a douchebag

but ultimately a good guy

MARTIAN

Bella suspects he’s cartel, but he isn’t

2 POV scenes

Hunter Weston (M)

“thief”

DICE officer

straight-laced, Mormon

security expert, electronics

“hacker”

2 POV scenes

 

(Act I)

 

Chapter 1

BELLA

arrive Methone

moon, mission

MONSTER-1

 

Chapter 2

BELLA

injured by MONSTER-2

has to rely on Dr. Niu

 

Chapter 3

HUNTER

gathering data on all other characters

—secretly an internal affairs investigator:

Knows Jimmy is cartel, suspects Bella

interrupted by MONSTER-3

 

Chapter 4

BELLA

trapped by

TRAP/TRICK-1

has to rely on Hunter

 

Chapter 5

Dr. NIU

alone, gathers data, releases:

MONSTER-4

 

Chapter 6

STAS

saves the day by overcoming

TRAP/TRICK-2

has doubts about Bella

 

Chapter 7

BELLA

confronts Stas—but he’s not traitor/villain

loses trust of others

 

(ACT II)

 

Chapter 8

Dr. NIU

tries to turn Stas & Hunter against Bella (fails)

TRAP/TRICK-3

Bella separated from the rest

 

Chapter 9

BELLA

has to fight

MONSTER-5

all by herself

 

Chapter 10

Dr. NIU

tries to find place to secretly contact her bosses

discovered by Hunter

 

Chapter 11

BELLA

has to figure out

TRAP/TRICK-4

all by herself

 

Chapter 12

BELLA

has to fight

MONSTER-6

all by herself—

finds her way back

 

Chapter 13

HUNTER

Discovers the truth about Dr. Niu

—tries to tell Bella

—leaves message, but interrupted by

TRAP/TRICK-5

Dr. Niu leaves him to die

Bella shows up just too late

 

Chapter 14

BELLA

moment of doubt and pain

TRAP/TRICK-6

has to rely on Stas

fails to protect Hunter

HUNTER DIES!

 

(Act III)

 

Chapter 15

Dr. NIU

Lost, alone,

succeeds in contacting bosses

then surprised by

MONSTER-7

 

Chapter 16

accidently injures Stas

confronted with limits of luck

MONSTER-8

 

Chapter 17

STAS

dénouement with his reflections on:

Bella

Dr. Niu

Hunter

mission

doubts

 

Chapter 18

Dr. NIU

moment of doubt and pain—

horrified,

almost killed by

MONSTER-9

 

Chapter 19

BELLA

Dr. Niu takes sides with monster in big huge fight with

MONSTER-10

 

Chapter 20

BELLA

confronts Dr. Niu

“kills” her

 

. . . the end.

So at least I have the most basic skeleton of a story—a beginning, a middle, and an end. I have a hero and a villain and two supporting players. I know they need more—lots more—before they feel anything like real people, but I’m on it!

I also know I need to create ten monsters—that’ll be fun!—and half a dozen trap/tricks. When I say trap/trick I mean that in the oldest of the Old School Gamer lexicon: something that isn’t a monster that challenges characters in a dungeon crawl. These might be puzzles they have to figure out, a space opera version of some magic thingamajig, or a god old fashioned booby trap. That’ll be fun too, and a real challenge. If those don’t work—come across as forced or out of place or either too easy or too hard—I’m in big trouble.

Actually, if any part of this comes across as forced or out of place or either too easy or too hard—I’m in big trouble!

No one ever said it was going to be easy . . .

Stay tuned!

 

—Philip Athans

 

About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the recently-released How to Start Your Own Religion and Devils of the Endless Deep. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, (https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/) is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
This entry was posted in Books, Dungeons & Dragons, horror novels, how to write fiction, intellectual property development, monsters, NaNoWriMo, Publishing Business, Pulp Fiction, RPG, Science Fiction & Fantasy Novels, Science Fiction Story, SF and Fantasy Authors, transmedia, Writing, writing advice, writing horror, Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to OUTLINING WITH NOTE CARDS 4: THE OUTLINE ITSELF

  1. Becca T says:

    Trying this method and needed a break to reorder my thoughts, checked in here and it was an update! As a non-outliner I really struggled at first (also wanted to try this with a fresh idea… problem being I hadn’t thought much about it until this point ). This has been very helpful though with envisioning options, notecards aren’t chiseled stone. I have gotten different POV ideas and am thinking now my story might be Sci fi instead of fantasy. The part that has been the hardest is that this story is largely made up of one character’s solitary quest so without having fleshed the story out past bullet points it is hard to know who else will tell this story. I always find my characters are revealed as the story unfolds, very interesting to do things this way. Almost backwards for me. I write and then flowchart to make sure it all works. Thanks for sharing has given me another tool.

  2. Pingback: VOTE FOR MY NaNoWriMo IDEA | Fantasy Author's Handbook

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