Now that you have an idea and characters, it’s time to actually outline the plot of your story. I suggest you start out with this worksheet from the Go Teen Writers blog: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzIwGbMT-SdCQ0x0NnVIUUU1Ync/edit. This worksheet will help you to create a story with solid and effective story structure because all you have to do is fill in the key events for each type of event. I love brainstorming with this sheet because it guides me through the plotting process, but at the same time it gives me some freedom with my plotting. At first glance, this worksheet can look a little bit confusing, so here are some posts that explain it a little better.
Once you have some basic notes written down about the key events in your plot, you can organize and further develop the details of these events with index cards. Start off by coming up with individual scenes that stem from the key events in the novel. Then, create one index card for each scene. You obviously have the freedom to do include or exclude any info from each card, but I suggest including these six components:
- Goal: the character’s goal in the scene.
- Conflict: what stops the character from achieving his/her goal.
- Problem: a problem that the character must solve in order to reach his/her goal.
- Reaction: the character’s reaction to the problem.
- Problem: a new dilemma that comes up as a result of the character’s reaction.
- Decision: a final decision that solves the conflict during the scene and allows the character to reach his/her goal.
When you’re done, arrange the cards in the order that you want your story to flow. In this way, you can see any discrepancies or plot holes that need to be fixed and easily move around scenes. You can even use color-coded index cards to make notes on different scene cards about elements that might affect your writing of each scene or things you need to research to effectively write the scene. Here are some elements to think about:
- Setting: how does the setting of your story present challenges or give advantages to your characters?
- Your Audience: how could you make this scene appeal especially to your target audience?
- Mood: what mood do you want to create with this scene?
When you are satisfied with your scenes, scene arrangement and scene notes, copy it all down onto one outline. Not only will this solidify your plot in your mind, but it will also keep your notes organized. Now you should be ready to write. All you need to do next is create your NaNoWriMo Survival Kit. I’ll post that tomorrow!