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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Outline Sample Choices Part Two

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

Outlines? Everyone Does (Excerpt From Write Your Novel Now Workshop)


Here are a few examples or working outlines from my own work. For my novel (Betta’s Song) I wrote a Simple brief three-paragraph general synopsis, and then the novel. The three paragraphs pretty much fit the category of a three-act structure. It was fun to write and I had no storyline problems until the crisis. Even though I knew how my story ended, I didn’t know how to get there and I wrote myself into a corner. I only needed the character to get from A to B. It took about four months to figure out how to write through that small section, almost as long as it had taken for the entire novel draft.

Jump forward a few years after I had begun to work with different structures a little more and was more comfortable with Easy-going generic outlines. My contemporary novel (Light That Fractures) first took place in a two-week timeline. My preliminary chapter outlines worked well. But something was scrambled and I couldn’t get it. After a few days (note the time difference instead of months) I decided to revise the trajectory and changed it from the decision making plot process to a timeline structure. And everything fell into place. Both factors were already present but I turned and simply reversed the focus of each. I was so set on my first viewpoint that I didn’t recognize the story’s viewpoint. When I did, it flowed.

Another work-in-progress novel (Invisible Light) had a threefold sequence, a Planned Stops and Easy-going combination. I needed a much more structured outline in order to keep all the parts straight, even though none of them appear to match the other. For my first sequence I took a fairy tale that interested me and outlined its sections. I found a three-act structure and within each section I found, or engineered, seven scenes. Then it became a dramatic narrative poem with a YA voice.

There was not much of a market for that particular piece, but at almost the same time I was also writing another contemporary story and I realized that my main YA character loved poetry too. So I re-did the character sketch and she wrote the fairy tale narrative. Then I looked at the two stories, so far apart in setting and character and timeline, but emotionally very close. So then my double-sided outline focused on theme, voice, atmosphere, and emotional journey. I set up chapter outlines with each character listed side by side to see where the matches would fit.

In nonfiction, my new Write with Impact series has gone through multiple outlines. Originally I have taught the contents in classes and workshops both in person and online, so they have each had several versions and overlap depending on the participants. One of my foundations is that each workbook will stand-alone for its subject matter and a writer does not need the whole series but only the subject that interests them. At the same time the undergirding principles are the same throughout.

My basic question was how do I give the repeat concepts and the new content. Finally I decided on a brief page series introduction for each book. Then I outlined the specific introduction for each individual workbook topic, then chapters, and references. Since my intent is layered information for all writing levels I include writing exercises and examples. However, because of the differences between topics sometimes they are a simple practice exercise and sometimes a developed process. 
Right now I think the overall series arc is a combination of all five outlines I’ve shared. The degree varies according the focus concept of each workbook and whether it is general information or detailed exploration.

My Table of Contents for each workbook does not reflect my interior outline, but I now have a working template to remind myself what threads need to be addressed in each separate topic.

Next week I’ll outline some beginning steps towards shaping applications.

Action Steps:

1.     Choose three of your favorite nonfiction books based on which you found easiest to read.

2.     Also choose three research books on your proposed topic that you found most helpful.

3.     Read the outlines. Do you see any similarity? Which parts capture your interest the most and why?

4.     How might the style of these outlines be applied to your topic?

Share: Did any format surprise you?

Read deep, marcy


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