Today I'm re-blogging a post from author Russell Blake and how he creates his outlines. Take it away Russell.
I had a long discussion with a friend who’s an aspiring author about
how to move the plot along and engage the reader at every turn. To that
end, I thought I’d share some things about how I plan and outline my own
work. If you find it helpful, good. If not, well, it was worth what you
paid for it.
Let me say up front that there is no one or “right” way to write a
novel. Some start writing with barely an idea, others do 50 page
outlines. So I can’t advise the only way to write a compelling draft, I can only explain the system I use.
Here’s how I do it: First, I ensure that if it’s an action book,
there are sufficient beats to keep the reader engaged. I do this
visually, as I outline (I do single sentence summaries of each chapter,
usually in three acts, approximately 15 chapters per act), by color
coding my chapters with action beats or reversals. So if my typical book
has, say, 45 chapters, and I don’t have a beat every two or three
chapters, it’s probably going to be a snoozefest. I’d rather know that
going in and contrive more story than discover I lack beats once
As discussed, my outline will be single sentence chapters, a la
“Giant panda storms Tokyo,” “Protag introduced, narrowly escapes,”
“Romantic interest introduced, helps her across river,” etc. The action
beats will be highlighted red (or in romance, the conflict beats). I
want to see a lot of red in one of my action adventure tomes.
Read the rest at http://russellblake.com/better-mousetraps/