Thursday, January 14, 2010

Outlining--Dun! Dun! Dun!

*Cue horror movie music*

If you're like me, the mere word reminds you of grueling High School English classes, Roman numerals and ABC's. Ugh.

Thanks to Becca Fitzpatrick, author of Hush, Hush, I no longer fear the outline! And it even makes sense. Becca joined us for a chat at and gave us poor newbie writers some invaluable info. What really stuck with me, was outlining.

I'm a plot pointer. I sit down with a pen and a notebook and I write down the important things I want to happen in my novel. I'll jot down a little note for each event and then I jump right in to the first draft and let my fingers fly. It works for me, but eventually I run into problems and I'm back to the notebook. Organization is a big help in writing a lengthy manuscript, and with the proper use of an outline, you can save yourself a lot of pen-dents on your fingers.

Becca's Outline Tips:

1.) The Bang! --An enticing moment that starts the story.

2.) The Turn Around--A turning point. Where the plot changes directions.

3.) Pitch Point--Key point that usually has something to do with subplot.
Ex. If your subplot is a love triangle/romance introduce the second guy/girl.

4.) Midpoint--Big moment that shifts the story to drive toward the climax. After the midpoint, you should be moving swiftly toward your climax.
Ex. from Hush, Hush: Nora and Patch are in a hotel room and Nora touches his scars.

5.) Pitch Point II--Again with the subplot, usually mirrors pitch point 1
Ex. if your MC thinks she can trust the second guy, she finds out she can't.

6.) Turn Around II--Final push that sends you in to your climax!

And then of course, be sure to have a nice closure. I hope my notes here will be of some use to you the next time you begin a fresh project.

If you have any outlining or plotting tips to share, we would LOVE to hear them!


  1. I see the benefits of outlining and have read about many authors who do this -- I'm just not an outliner. I get an idea and basically write by the seat of my pants. However, now that I've finished the first one (save for editing), I've looked at some of these checklists and realized I followed the recommended format (whew!).

    I'm writing my second YA now and same as the first book -- I have no idea what's going to happen next. I find it's fun to write that way as I'm just as surprised as the reader hopefully will be. I'm sure there are pros/cons to each and every writer works best with certain parameters. Good post, Lacey!

  2. Thanks!

    I was happy to see that my methods weren't too far off from Becca's. And "outlining" doesn't necessarily have to be hard. The next time an SCBWI speaker asks, in that trick-questiony voice, "Do you outline?" I can say YES!

  3. Well, I loved Hush, Hush so clearly she's doing something right! Yeah, I don't do so well w/ trick-questiony people -- I'm too honest :)

  4. I always love reading people's ways of outlining. They're always so interesting. I don't really outline but I do usually write all of those different points out before I start writing. I try to know at least the major events that drive the story towards it's end. Great post Lacey!

    And Kristi! You're writing another one? Have you finished revising Bound or are you just taking a break? congrats on starting a new story. It's such a fun place to be!

  5. Oh and sorry for not posting yesterday! I had a kinda crazy day and just couldn't think straight enough to come up with something. Going to try and write up a couple in advance this weekend.

  6. Valerie - nope, still revising but 20K into another one. I'm trying to finish revisions by the end of this month but it's not looking good. Maybe I'll shoot for the end of Feb.:)

  7. this was awesome! i took notes on her chat too!

  8. That question doesn't usually come from trick-questiony people, but it's always asked in that way that says: Do you outline--because you totally should! And I usually say no, but I do plot points, which is basically the same thing!


    Glad to know I'm not alone!
    And isn't it funny how you have a million things to talk about, until it's actually your day to post?

  9. Shelli, I saw your name on the chat. I was wondering if it was you! Next time, feel free to say hi.


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