Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books in lots of weird genres like fantasy (Blood of Kings and Kinsman Chronicles), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). She's currently writing a post-apocalyptic book with all of you called THIRST in conjunction with the #WeWriteBooks series.
Find Jill on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or on her author website, where you can read THIRST. You can also try two of her fantasy novels for free here and here.
Welcome to week ten of #WeWriteBooks Wednesdays, where we are writing books together. I posted Chapter 8 of THIRST yesterday over on my author website. Eli and friends are doing their best to avoid trouble, yet it always seems to find them! Click here to read it.
A waterborne disease has sprung up in every corner of the globe, decimating the human race. Young survivors Eli McShane and his friends journey toward Colorado and the rumored location of a safe water source.
Week three was Storyworld. Week four: maps and floorplans. Week five: protagonists and main characters. Week six: side characters. Week seven: prewriting. Week eight: plot structures. Week nine: Theme.
Today's Topic: Creating a Plot Outline or a List of Key ScenesTwo weeks back, we talked about different types of plot structures. I took a break to talk about theme because theme can be something to consider when outlining key scenes in your story. Today we're going to look at creating a plot outline or a list of key scenes.
Whether you're a plotter or a pantser, having a small outline can help your plot stay on track. There are lots of different ways to do this. Here are some archived posts for you to take a look at.
Archived posts for outlining a novel:
What is the Best Way to Plot a Novel?
The Pros and Cons of Plotting and Pantsing
How To Develop Your Novel Into a List of Key Scenes: Part One
How To Develop Your Novel Into a List of Key Scenes: Part Two
For those who don't outline:
Tips for Writers Who Don't Work Well With Outlines
K. M. Weiland on Outlining Your Book Backwards
A Non-Plotter Explains How She Outlines
Things To Help1. Use three-act structure brainstorming sheets.
This is the "Jill Method" of initial plotting. I created my own story brainstorming sheets that are based off the three-act structure. So if your story uses the three-act structure, my brainstorming sheets might help you. There are other plot worksheets out there. Spending some time on Google can help you find them. Another one I have used often is Blake Snyder's beat sheet, which is written with movie lingo, but is a solid structure for a novel. And here is one by Jami Gold for romance novels.
2. Adding Genre Conventions
If you're writing a particular genre, there are key scenes to consider adding that might not fit within other genres. Take a romance novel, for example. In a romance, you need certain types of scenes to help these two people get to know each other. And these are scenes you wouldn't need in a mystery. This post on genre conventions might help spark some ideas as to key scenes to include in your story: Are Genre Conventions Important?
3. Adding Mystery Elements
Whether or not you're writing a mystery novel, you might want to add mystery elements or a subplot to your story. This takes some forethought to execute well. You'll want to write out a list of scenes or situations in which you can plant clues. Here are two posts to help you if you're planning to add some mystery to your novel: The Beginner's Guide to Writing a Mystery and 7 Ways to Add Mystery to Your Plot.
Assignment TimeToday's assignment is to make a list of key scenes. You could do this using a plot sheet like mine, Blake Snyder's, or Jami Gold's. Or you could simply write out a chronological list of events: the things you know you want to have happen in the story. Once you've got this list, look it over and show it to a critique partner if you can.
How does it look? Do you have a strong story from start to finish? Do you need to do some rearranging? Do you see any glaring plot holes? If so, brainstorm a scene to fill each hole. You don't have to plot out everything that will happen in the book. And you don't even have to plot out all the way to the end, though that certainly helps me. I simply want you to be thinking about important scenes that will keep the story moving or lay a foundation for mystery. Feel free to share your list in the comments, if you'd like. Or you could share a concern for your plot--something you see coming already and know you're going to have trouble with when you get there. Or just give us an update with how your story is coming along so far.
For THIRST, I'm eight chapters in and at 26,980 words. I'm good to go through chapter 13, then I'm going to have some rough patches. The plot is going to change drastically once Eli and his friends reach the compound. I will need to introduce a bunch of new characters. I'm concerned it might feel like a completely new book is starting and I don't want that. For now, I'm going to keep plugging along.