Prepping for NaNoWriMo: Step Six – The Big Outline

Woo-Hoo, it’s Big Outline time!

Alright, now we’re ready for the fun part, right?  Writing that in-depth Big Outline!  For some this is a wonderful moment (hooray!), for others it fills them with dread.  Don’t worry, those of you who are scared of this step; I’ll guide you through.

First things first, gather everything you’ve done so far. Research, Voice Journals, Chain of Causality, Short Plot Outline, Summary, Poster Board of Greatness….have them with you.  Block out a couple of hours to revel in the work you’ve already done, and create that step-by-step outline that will make NaNoWriMo the best ever.

Take your Chain of Causation.  You can have your hard copy here, but a computer copy is the best for expanding into the long outline we’re making here (I like to have both at hand).  Take each sentence in your chain and expand on it to create the scene.  Add the scenes that might go between the events in the chain.  Use an asterisk, italics, or different font for different viewpoints or voices.  A different font or italics will help you to see at a quick glance where you might be lacking in viewpoint coverage, etc.

All the little things you thought of previously, but weren’t put into the Chain of Causation, put them in now.  Getting a little giddy, right?

Bringing it all Together

As you go through and expand, note where you want any realizations to happen.  Where you might place any plants throughout the story (mark these in a different color and you can go back to make sure you’ve sorted everything out once you’ve finished).  (Full Stop.  Are any of you asking what plants are?  In Hollywood terms, a plant is any object or saying or event that unobtrusively foretells what will happen later in the story.  Usually, these are things that you remember later in the movie and hit your head and say, “Oh, I get it now.  Of course she was dead.”  That kind of thing. )   Where you think you still might want to expand the plot line.  Where you intuitively know something belongs, but it hasn’t quite come to you yet.  All these go in here.

Once you’ve finished, print it off.  Check for the voice/viewpoint.  Check for the plants or other things that needed to be resolved (honestly, different colors help!) and make sure they were.  Make sure you haven’t removed any part of your Chain of Causation.

Then get back on the computer and finish it up.  Once it’s done, here’s where it gets even more fun.  Enter your Scrivener story file and go to the Cork Board.  Now you get to divide it up by scene.

Paste each scene from your Big Outline onto its index card in Scrivener and name the scene.  This isn’t the name you’re using for chapters.  The name you put here reflects the action of the scene, so that once you start writing, you can see at a glance what each scene is about.  Note, these do not have to be done by chapter; scene will do – in fact, it’s preferable.  And once you’ve copied and pasted and see all those lovely scenes named…you are going to be so excited to write!

But hold on. There’s one more step before you actually start NaNoWriMo, if you want to conquer NaNoWriMo and have it be your best year ever….

Read about Step Seven here.

Miss Step Five?  Read it here.

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