Outlining: A Crash Course

I, once again, embark upon the journey of writing.

I’ve chosen to outline Fetching the Wizard to see where it’s gone astray.

I have no idea where I found this. It was at least a year ago.

I’m working with the three act structure with beats.

Okay, for those, like me, who don’t know, I will go over what I have learned. This way we all know what I’m talking about and I will have a reminder later.

LoL. If you’ve read the posts here, you probably know my memory sucks.

Act 1 (First Contextual Part) (Beats or scenes 1 to 12): the introduction or set up. This part prepares everything for the first plot point.

It introduces main characters, setting, and shows what normal life is like.

This is how core dramatic thread -plot and character- is seeded, foreshadowed, and set up. It allows the stakes to emerge, the essential machinations to get the plot moving. The story doesn’t fully launch. It’s set up.

This is 20% to 25% of the story.

First Plot Point (Beat or scene 12): The story changes. The sky falls, doors open, or threat emerges.

This is the point in the story where the hero is forced to respond to a new situation, to take action, or embark on a quest.

This separates act 1 and act 2.

Act 2 (Second Contextual Part) (Beats or scenes 13 to 19) : The hero’s response. Here is where the hero gets deeper into trouble. They must do something in response to the first plot point, not always the right thing (way too early for success).

Pinch Point (3/8th into the story) (Example of the nature and implications of antagonist force unfiltered by hero) :

May require a set up scene (beat or scene 20)

Example: scene with kidnapper beating captive for fun, or kidnapper playing recording of screams for ransom payer.

The simpler and more direct, the better.

Place in center of act 2.

Act 2 (continued) (beat or scene 22 to 29): Hero is on a new path responding to the call to action (or cowardice) and it is the looming presence of the threat (stakes) -often the villain – that makes it work.

Dynamic between hero and villain is put more fully into play and allowed to grow in nature and scope.

Things need to get worse and more complicated before you can show them getting better.

Any ultimate change of fortune for hero must be precipitated by new information being put into the story. This information may change the story or explain things better.

Midpoint (confrontation) (50% mark) (beat or scene 30): Hero either leverages or is impacted by the new information.

It’s a betrayal, illusion clarified, new forces in play or the proximity of incongruous opportunity or tool that could change things.

Midpoint shifts context from hero responding and running to more cunning and courageous as pretext for more proactive attack.

Act 3 (Third Contextual Part)(beat or scene 31 to 35): Hero ups the game. He stops running and starts acting strategically and courageously. It probably won’t work well, yet.

Second Pinch Point (Reminder of the nature and implications of antagonist force unfiltered by the hero) (5/8th into the story)(beat or scene 37):

May require a set up scene (beat or scene 36)

The villain ups his game. The stakes go up. The pace accelerates. Things get more dramatic.

Act 3 (continued) (beats or scenes 38 to 43) Both sides collide and make reader react. Doesn’t mean it ends well for the hero.

The threat, tension, stakes, and urgency all accelerate here.

Collision happens in a way that opens avenue for ultimate resolution for hero. Hero, and reader, may not see it, yet.

The Lull (beat or scene 44): All is lost.

Second Plot Point (75% mark)(beat or scene 45) : Story changes again. A major shift in perception and truth for all sides, including reader.

This divides contextual part 3 and 4.

Fourth Contextual Part (beats or scenes 46 to 60):

Hero and villain converge. They ultimately collide with a confrontation determining outcome of the story.

It sets up how the hero’s life changed and is shaded in the future. The context of heroism, even martyrdom, on the part of the hero.

It doesn’t have to be fully happy, or anything. It must deliver resolution, full or partial, ironic or on-the-nose, and an emotional end point for the reader.

This was an extremely long post, but it covered a great deal of information. In the next few posts, I will be breaking it down and putting it to work on a story.

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