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  • Outliners

    I would like to hear some thoughts on the outlining process that some of you go through. I tend to revisit the darned thing day after day, designing much of the story experience and trying to control pacing and rhythm at that level. Also seems to be easier to get an
    escalation of action...but I don't really get detailed
    at all. Just sort of give the scene a name that sums
    up its intent and move on. What is your approach?


  • #2
    I drive an hour to work every day. I set up everything in my head during the drive.

    I really have to get two things: a house closer to work, and notecards.


    • #3
      #1: I try to write a saleable trailer for my piece.

      #2: I try to write the outline like it was a promo on the back of a best-selling novel (not a GOOD novel, just a best seller...)


      • #4
        Of outlines, notecards, little voices and monkeys

        First I write an overview of my story. Then I break it down into story beats, major actions, character arcs, important scenes, sequences, etc. (This is all after I've written synopses, character sketches, etc.) I have recently rediscovered the unparalleled (imho) usefulness of notecards. My notecards tend to work themselves out in the form of "story movement by story movement" rather than "scene by scene".

        That always present, never easy to to ignore, little voice of insecurity in my head is constantly trying to get me to make the outline more detailed before I start writing the actual script. If I feel like giving into the inevitable procrastination that this sentiment leads to, sometimes I'll delay the actual script-writing for a month past the original date when I could have, in all honesty, started writing it. This never seems to be as productive as the little voice (no, stop talking to me, I'm trying to write a post...stop plaguing me) would have me believe.

        My overall advice would be to come up with a story, then synopses, then character sketches...then write the outline in terms of major movements in the story and major scenes. Then let the rest come to you as you write the actual script.

        Don't listen to the voice. It is FEAR with a personality (an offshoot of yours). It has a purpose, perhaps, when a rabid monkey has just broken into your kitchen and it's telling you that said monkey is up to no good, and, yes, you SHOULD drop the pudding and run (or do whatever you're supposed to do in such a situation). But when it's telling you to delay getting that screenplay done for as long as you possibly can...

        Well, you get my point.



        • #5
          Re: wild mind

          I use notecards only with very brief descriptions of scene/setting with perhaps a touch of dialouge just to get started. After the first draft they are just there as a spot reference.

          I don't use formal outlines. They're too strict & don't allow me to let my story go where it wants to if I've got a pre-determined path to follow.


          • #6
            Screenplay Outliners

            I tend to work like TonyR, except that I create a scene-by-scene outline after I write the treatment or story movement breakdown. I don't let the outline box me in; if I need to add a scene, or combine scenes then I do it. I've found that I save time by working the story out on a scene-by-scene basis.

            I also use Screenplay Outliner from Kitchona Software. I designed it to help you outline your screenplay. It's part freeware and part shareware. The basic story info section never times out, and you have thirty days to evaluate the story, character, and outlining functions.

            The software is available for download at www.kitchona.com on the download page, or on ZDnet Downloads, www.zdnet.com/downloads/ just do a search on screenplay and you'll find it.

            Hope this helps,


            • #7
              I'm with callit on this one, Caliban. I refuse to outline; it makes me feel as if I have to adhere to a particular story to arrive at a particular ending, regardless of whether or not my original idea is superior to what "just happens."

              I tend to start with an ending, think up a rough list of characters (by "rough" I mean "not-too-detailed" - I want the characters to surprise ME, too) and start writing. Whatever happens, happens. If it doesn't fit, make it fit, modify it, or get rid of the damn thing altogether.

              However, that's just how I do it. I think there's a lot of value in outlining, it's just not for me. My advice to you is to try everything and use what works best.

              keep on swingin'


              • #8
                I also use the index card method, but I'm guilty of getting excited about the idea I'm working on and disbanding the outline half-way through to start writing. Of course, by this time I've already worked out the character rap sheets and the high points of the story.

                I'm kind of torn about the outline process, to be honest. In all the years I've written short stories, I never used an outline as I always felt it limited my creative ability during the writing process--I prefer the spontonaeity of the actual writing. I think they're helpful to get the ball rolling, but not a necessity. I just want to be entertained as much as the next person...is that so wrong...! :-)

                Either way, if you have a good idea where the story is headed and you've done the necessary homework in other areas (research, character studies, etc.), outline or none, your story will eventually start to write itself. The characters take on their own lives and you're just along for the ride.

                Take Care,
                Steve, aka Noctivagus


                • #9
                  Tried the card method - didn't work for me.

                  So a usually scratch a page about my charaters - make a few notes on key elements/details of the story and away I go.

                  I might devote half a page of points remeber to thread into the story - but for at least the first half of the story it just flows.

                  For the sniper/vigilante script I'm working on I made a list of scenes - or more like story "milestones" right on the script after I hit page 50 (point form )to make sure I have the timeline down right and few key deatils to twig my thoughts ( usually pretty cryptic like :red herring - physics course)

                  I tried some of the other ways - but I found this less structured approach pretty good for me.


                  • #10
                    Boy, is it reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who doesn't really outline. Tried the cards once, got bored half way through.



                    • #11
                      Lil, consider yourself reassured. Outlining sucks the creativity right out of my head. I'm writing without it, and as they say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

                      keep on swingin'


                      • #12
                        Not everyone can do a outline,as long as you write.Do what is best for you,screw the outline """I HATE OUTLINES""""