Organizing Your Plot Structure

Outline

Writers seem to be moving away from the outline, although most publishing houses still require one with your book proposal. We all hated writing outlines when we were in school. But writers who use them, swear by them.

Using Taylor finding the missing gun as an example, your outline might read like this:

I. Taylor Finds the Missing Gun
A. Description:
1. He’s rummaging through his sister’s room
2. She walks in
3. A fight ensues
4. She takes a bullet

II. Taylor Buries the Family Secret
A. Spends His Life in Solitude
1. Flees the Country
2. Travels abroad in a drunken stupor
3. Late night scuffle finds him shooting an innocent man

Folders
Colored folders are a great way to gather research and various ideas. Blue could be all of your research pertaining to the Ebola virus. Red could be a compilation of characters involved in your story. Purple could contain your scenes.

Break this down even further and you could label each folder by its chapter number. Garrett dies in Chapter 4. You’re working on a pivotal scene in Chapter 18 but you can’t remember how he died. Simply refer back to that chapter’s folder and you won’t have an unordered mess to sift through.

“Sure,” you say. “But how am I going to remember what happened 14 chapters ago?”

Easy. Write a brief synopsis on the front of that particular folder. If you’re writing on your computer and printing out your drafts as you go, print a brief synopsis and paste it to that chapter’s folder.

You’ll find this also helps break up the writing monotony. You’re still working on your novel. You’re just not hammering away on those keys at the moment.