The Bad Book Project #9 | Outlining (by Blaise)

Hey, everyone! Also welcome to my new followers! I’m back without any broken bones, with some more bruises, but beside that I’m totally fine. Skiing was so much fun, I had the best time! I might be doing a little update thingie this Tuesday so keep your eyes out for that post. I’ll also be posting my wrap-up and tbr then (I read so many books during my vacation :D). Here comes the post you’ve been waiting on, this is the 9th week of The Bad Book Project and I am really glad to be saying that Blaise from The Book Boulevard wrote the post below about outlining! You can check out the last posts in this series here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Hello everyone! My name is Blaise and I would like to thank Lia for inviting me over to her blog ❤ Today I’ll be chatting with you a little about outlining.

For some people, outlining just doesn’t work.  For a long time, that was the case for me.

And then – I saw the light? Not really. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. For others (like myself), outlining is incredibly useful. But there are a million different ways to outline, and different people respond differently to different methods.

It’s this weird thing called individuality, I guess?

Well, I’d just like to share three outlining methods that work for me in the hopes that maybe one of them will work for you.

  1. Set-Up, Conflict, Resolution

This method takes the concept of the 3-act structure and makes it go the route of Inception. Act 1 sets up the conflict. This is where you put all your pieces into play: the necessary backstory and worldbuilding, the major players (characters), and the primary conflict. Act 2 plays out the body of the conflict. This is where everything escalates—the characters’ conflicts increase, the development gets intense, the question of will-they-or-won’t-they-succeed is pushed to its limits. Act 3 then offers the resolution to that—it brings you to your climax, where the conflict concludes and your character development comes to a head.

That’s your big structure.

The idea behind this is that each act also has a set-up, conflict, resolution cycle. And that each of those parts includes a set-up, conflict, resolution cycle. So on and so forth, ad infinitum.

If you look at the hero’s journey and the cyclical nature of stories, this makes a lot of sense. You need to set up a conflict for that conflict to happen and be resolved. Ideally, each resolution then sets up the next conflict, and so on. Taking notes in this cyclical manner can keep you from losing track of your central conflict (which can be difficult, especially in particularly complex stories)

2. Cause-and-Effect, or What if?

This is as simple as it gets. Event A happens. What is the natural follow-up to that?

Write it down and put it aside.

Write down all the next few things, and put those aside, too.

Now, think of an Event B that wouldn’t happen as a result of Event A, and make it plausible. What elements can you adjust in Event A to make Event B possible, though perhaps not probable.

This method is great for two things: 1) it really stretches your creative muscles to think of how cause-and-effect can propel your story forward, and 2) it makes sure that you don’t have any non-sequiturs. This keeps you focused on the relationship between events, which will keep your story flowing smoothly.

After all, you want everything to make sense, right?

3. Effect-and-Cause

Or you can do the reverse of the previous step, and focus on the effect rather than the cause.

In this method, you start at the end of the story, with the last scene or the climax. You pick.

And then you work backwards: what one event must happen for that climax/scene to happen? No ifs, ands, or buts, what can that climax not happen without? The emphasis here is important because the difference in direction is powerful.

Rather than thinking about how to make the effect happen by changing the cause, you have to think about what cause is absolutely necessary to make the effect happen. Does that make sense? Don’t worry, it does to me.

The other useful thing about this particular strategy is that it can be really helpful in finding the right place to start your story. This is something a lot of writers struggle with, especially in terms of starting too early. With this strategy, you only go back so far until the inciting incident happens – the cause that results in the whole story happening.

The big thing to note here is that these three techniques are all closely related, in part because there are certain elements all plots share.

The key about outlining is finding the particular frame that helps you organise the story in your head, which is partially why not all methods work for everyone. For me, for example, the technical outline methods (A, I, a, i, etc) don’t work for me. But these three methods do tend to.

I hope you find this helpful!

Happy writing ❤

I hope you found this post helpful! Thank you so much Blaise for your wonderful post!

Also here’s a “small” update on my writing. I am not going to write the book I’ve been planning to write for 8 weeks (oops), just before my break I got an entirely new idea and decided to go with that. I was so completely stuck, I just couldn’t figure out what to do with the plot and then this idea came and I loved it. It is completely different, it’s a contemporary YA book about a girl named Linde who lost her mom. This is my current synopsis:

Linde has two fathers, of which one is a woman (transgender) and the other an alcoholic. She also has a blind little brother. And a dead mother.
After the tragic death of her mother, Linde is crushed. Her world is speedingly falling apart. Four years after her death, Linde’s life is not yet back to normal, and then she meets Jonah, the semi-popular kid who seems too normal for her world.
Together they decide to follow in Linde’s mother’s footsteps and finish her unfinished journey. But then Linde’s family wants to tag along.

It’s about family, friends and love and about grief and finding yourself. I love it! And it’s much easier because it’s mainly set in the Netherlands (so no worldbuilding, yay) and I can use my own experiences.

I don’t know how it works yet but I believe you can now join Cabins in Camp NaNoWriMo, so if you want to write together, please let me know (and please explain to me how it works because I’m lost here). You can find me here.

15 thoughts on “The Bad Book Project #9 | Outlining (by Blaise)

  1. I’m awful at outlining but I’ll definitely use these tips!
    Also, your book sounds so cool! I’ve also never done Camp NaNoWriMo but will join!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t know you could send messages on camp nanowrimo :O
        I got no notification or anything, but I’ll go look on the website right away 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Blaise! Your first tip will help me with my current project, which is pretty broad in scope. I’m working on the plan for the final section, and keep getting lost in the details. This 3-act structure should help me keep the big picture in mind. *goes off to write it* Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

Let me hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s