- THE WRITER'S JOURNEY by Chris Vogler. This work is based on the hero’s journey, a concept developed by mythologist, Joseph Campbell, in his work, The Hero With A Thousand Faces. In it the protagonist goes on an adventure through twelve stages. I’ve found this method helpful when I have an idea for a character and an opening situation but I’m stuck for a plot.
- THE SUCCESSFUL NOVELIST by David Morrell. Morrell is the creator of the character, John Rambo (made famous in Sylvester Stallone movies). Instead of a conventional outline he recommends a “conversation with myself”. It’s basically an internal dialogue put down on paper. In my novel The Peril Protocol I used this technique to get through a difficult section of my plot. Here is an example: “Hope goes to the detective, JACK FOSTER, on the case of the murder victim, and tells him of her suspicions of Lurch. He dismisses her concerns or he hits on her. Which is it? Ok, he dismisses her. What next? Hope steals Lurch’s keys, makes a copy, and goes into his apartment while he’s at the lab. She finds some incriminating evidence linked to the killing.”
- STORY ENGINEERING by Larry Brooks. This is a comprehensive book on novel writing. I highly recommend it. In it he takes the basic three act structure to a whole new level. It is a detailed structure called a “beat sheet”. Here is a section of my beat sheet for The Peril Protocol: Part 1 – Set up:
Introduction of HOPE ALLERD. She guides an intern as he intubates a dying patient, saving his life. Hope is cool, confident, and
On rounds the residents and fellows are all in awe of DR FRANICS PERIL, all except Hope. When other residents and fellows
are stumped by Peril’s Socratic questions, Hope answers them with ease. There is also a sexual tension between she and
Peril obvious to all except Hope. Also on rounds is LESLIE "LURCH" BRIGHTWELL, Peril’s constant companion and lab
He’s tall and very scary looking. One resident seems particularly put out by Hope's showing off (this is Marcia).
Police find the body and begin their investigation into the murder.
Hope and Peril discuss her starting work in his research lab. He sees a “bright future” for her as an assistant professor in the
University upon completion of her fellowship
You’re not confined to one way of outlining. I recommend looking into different ways of constructing that novel outline to see which suits you best then start writing.
Next time I’ll discuss how two famous writers approach outlining.