ISLAND CREATIVE WRITERS – LESSON 10
Last meeting we discussed story structure. Most novels are based on a three-act structure. Structure simple refers to:
We discussed the elements that make up the structure of each type (or genre) of the story and why those elements needed to be included.
You can read that blog post here > Learn to Write Using your Favorite Book, Island Creative Writers – Lesson 9.
Doing a bit of prep work before you actually embark on the first draft of your book writing process, can save you time & frustration. There are different types of writers and the most common are:
- Pantsers (Who write by the seat of their pants)
- Planners (Ok, that’s pretty much self-explanatory)
- Discovery Writer (A little of both)
WHAT TYPE OF WRITER ARE YOU?
Pantsers usually don’t use any form of outline but sit and write without much of a plan. Planners use multiple types of tools such as outlines, character sketches, and even outlines within their outlines. Discovery writers are minimalists when it comes to outlining and planning because they like to allow the story to steer them and “discover” it as they go. But Discovery writers do a bit of preparation.
Most successful writers have a system that works. Finding that system that’s best for you is key in sticking with it.
Having some type of plan in place will undoubtedly save you time and frustration
If nothing else, an outline, (even if it’s the most basic) will help you organize your thoughts and develop your story in the most effective way.
WHAT ARE THE 5 TYPES OF OUTLINING
- You may want to lay out your story events in Chronological Order.
This does not mean that your final structure will be chronological. You can always play with your chronology later. Take a romance, for instance, Hallmark’s movies revolve around the same plotline. Girl moves back home, meets old boyfriend, present boyfriend shows up, a fight ensues, present boyfriend leaves, old boyfriend works out, etc…
- Begin Crafting a Story Arc or outlining by Scenes. Write the scenes you have envisioned on index cards, then arrange those in sequence. This will give you an idea of how you want the story to unfold. You may want to start your story at the end and work your way backward – lots of adventure movies do this. Or perhaps you will start in the middle and use certain events as a backstory to the primary narrative. Science fiction (speculative Syfy, star sagas, Star Wars, Lord of the Flies) uses this method. The backstory adds to the tension.
- Think About How You Want the Story to End.
Yes, it’s true that you don’t have a beginning or a middle yet, but a good book builds toward its conclusion at all times. Therefore, ponder what kind of takeaway or conclusion you want your reader to depart with when they’re done. Mystery and thriller writers like Terry Blackstock do this. You have to know who is the killer to drop a few Red Herrings in to throw your readers off. Begin crafting a story structure that will logically lead them to that point.
- Center the Narrative Outline round the Protagonist (Main Character)
How will this story change your main character? Will they move from fear to courage? Pessimism to optimism? Put yourself in their shoes, grab a journal and tell their story. This is Historical Fiction Author, Nancy Rue’s method of outlining. Your personal perspective is bound to show up. We all have common themes and what we are drawn to that will naturally appear as discussed in our previous lesson.
- Settle on a Minimalistic Three-Act Story Arc
Your arc might follow a traditional narrative structure with three acts building toward a climax. This includes the Inciting Incident, The Mirror Moment, and The Climax.
However, if you choose to organize your book, using some type of outline as a roadmap will give you guidance at every stage of your story. It will serve as a map or compass when you feel lost. Which happens on occasion to the best of writers.
The suggestions here are only tools to help you begin the process of writing. Once you discover which type of preplanning works for you, the rest will be enjoyable!
If you enjoy your story – someone else will too!
Share your method of pre-planning in the comments below. I’m interested to see what works best and what type of writer you are 珞
Till next time – Keep Writing : )