Tuesday, October 29, 2013

SIWC 2013 Workshop #4, Outline vs Freefall

Outline vs Freefall (kc dyer)

Plotting advantages
organized approach
roadmap for where you’re going
can do all your research upfront

Plotting disadvantages
structure can lead to a formulaic result/feeling
Stuck to the schedule, even if you have new/better ideas

Pantsing advantages
always surprising/interesting
can research as you go, and change directions if you find something that contradicts your story

Pantsing disadvantages
keeping track of characters/plot lines
lose track of yourself completely

Scrivener (software) is one tool of many, it has a mindmapping option

Outlines don’t always have to take the same shape/form, they are just a way to organize.
Lists, color, lines/shapes/arrows/diagrams, all the way to spreadsheets. Point form, notes to self, as long as the ideas are charted out.

What’s your system?

1) kc’s basic novel outline:

Workshop exercise:
Complete with your current WIP or a story idea you have simmering...

Working Title:

Is this a literary/general fiction work or more genre-focused?

If genre, which? (feel free to cross-genres!)

Give a three line (max) description of the story:


Character #1 - the protagonist (hero/heroine of the story)
Primary goal:
Most notable personality traits:

Character #2 - the antagonist (main opposition character)
Primary goal:
Most notable personality traits:
Relationship to protagonist:

Character #3 - a major supporting character
Primary goal:
Most notable personality traits:
Relationship to protagonist:

Setting: Where are the principle areas where the story unfolds?
Setting #1
Reason for using this setting:

Setting #2
Reason for using this setting:

What is the main complication of the story (the central problem that must be solved by the main character)?

What are the primary obstacles preventing the main character from achieving his/her goals?

How is the story resolved for the main character (how does it end)?

Summarize, in present-tense narrative, your story idea

2) Mind maps: good for organizing random ideas, goals, research, character planning (also their relationships to each other), chronology/timeline, plot points

3) Six short steps: 
  1. Goal - > what the story’s all about (readers HAVE to care) and the world around the problem, both positive and negative aspects for everyone in that world
  2. Consequences -> if they fail/succeed, what happens, this is important because it allows the reader to care about the goal/consequence. This creates the main dramatic tension in the story.
  3. Needs and prerequisites: as needs are met, readers will feel the protagonist is getting closer to the coal and get excited. Prerequisites are what have to happen before the needs can be met, so it’s the pre-layer.
  4. Forewarning and preconditions: forewarnings are the counterpart to needs, they show the consequences is getting closer (the protagonist will fail). This creates an oscillation where the reader goes through ups & downs. Preconditions are small stumbling blocks in the plot, other characters can be great preconditions, or laws/rules/etc.
  5. Costs: good plots are problems that mean a lot to the characters. If it’s trivial, no one cares. The character must make sacrifices to get the goal. If the cost is steep, the reader will feel the character deserves to win.
  6. Benefits: balances are rewards the character received along the journey to the story goal, can be completely unrelated to the goal, but wouldn’t have been achieve unless the character went on the journey towards their goal.
Now, arrange into a brief synopsis.

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