Outline your novel in 30 minutes

I came across this post earlier today.  It’s an interesting exercise if you’re thinking about a novel, gearing up for NaNoWriMo, or are looking for a creative writing exercise.  What’s to lose?  No more than 30 minutes.

Reblogged from Writing References and Prompts.

This is a quick exercise designed to sketch out the major events of your novel. It only gives you a map— you have to make the drive yourself!

Get a kitchen timer or set your alarm. You’re going to free-write for three minutes on several questions. (If you want to cheat and write for five minutes on each, go ahead. Just be warned the exercise might take you an hour then.) In free-writing, you put your fingers to keyboard or pen to paper and write, without regard to grammar, spelling, sense, or organization, for a specified period of time. The trick is— you can’t stop till the bell rings. If you can’t think of anything to say, you just write your last word over and over. Pretty quick you’ll get bored and think of something else to write. But remember, turn off the editor. This is exploration, not real writing.

Type or write the question, then set the clock, read the question allowed, and go.

1. At the start of your book, what distinguishes your protagonist from other people? What central strength does he/she have? How does this strength get him/her into trouble?

Strength: Sue’s really good at problem solving. Trouble: She’s always being brought in at the last minute to clean up other people’s messes.

2. When the novel opens, what is s/he on the brink of doing? Why does he/she say she’s going to do this? What does this action represent for the protagonist?

She’s just moved into a new town and has volunteered to do the stage managing for the community theater. She says that theater work is fun, and she’ll get to make new friends. This represents her attempt to become part of the new community.

3. What external situation will require the protagonist’s participation throughout the course of the book? How does this connect with #2? Does it help or interfere? Can you build in a deadline for extra tension


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