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Outlines and how to figure them out?



I have always liked mysteries and I intend to write one just for myself. If it's any good and not embarrassing, maybe I'd consider getting it published. However, just the mere idea of someone else reading a story I've written at this point gives me writers block, so ... the story is for me. I enjoy writing and I enjoy mysteries.

Now that I've really been thinking hard and brainstorming for the past week, I have some characters (probably not all of them) and some ideas. I know who the murderer is and why they did it. I've got motives for other characters (but not for all of them). I don't have secrets for all of them.

I planned to have 3 victims ... but the more I think and brainstorm, the more detailed and convoluted it starts to seem. I imagine if it is beginning to seem like too many "threads" to me, it probably would to other people too.

What is your processing for outlining the story? How long does it take you for all the major elements (not necessarily the minor ones) to "click" in your head and you can start writing the broad strokes? How well do you know your characters before you start writing? Did you know your characters very well before writing or did some characters just "walk on the stage and demand the spotlight?"

I'm not really asking about the plot structure. It's more the "figuring out all the elements". I would just like to be able to write an outline to work from and get to the fun part of writing the scenes and the story. Is this the toughest part for most people?

Old Bill:
First, I agree that this forum is quiet lately (maybe everyone is too busy on their WIPs to post) ::) Reference to your other post.
I'm not published so my thoughts may be of questionable value, but I don't outline. An idea comes to me and I take it forward and sometimes backward as if it is happening in real time. About two-thirds through the endings usually formulate and I try to get my characters to go there, which is often the hardest part for me. I probably have 7-8 WIP and a couple that are finished but hardly worth publishing. writing, too, it more for my mental health than for sharing.

BTW: there is a section on this forum to post samples of your WIP for others to review and offer assistance. I've gotten some good suggestions using that. Good luck with your story. If you think it is getting too convoluted, you can always edit, edit, edit. :)

Old Bill

I generally write as and when ideas pop in my head. But I found this method to be very erratic and counterproductive. So I started following this screenwriting technique that I read many years ago and try to implement it in my writing. It's called 40 scene beat sheet. Before I start writing full throttle, I try to divide my story into 40 major plot points that moves the story from start to finish. This story outline helps in maintaining continuity and keeps your writing from meandering into not so important story beats. To add to that, I also have a B and a C story outline to go along with my primary plot. This helps in adding layers and complications to the story. I hope this helps!


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